NSI-189 is a novel neurogenic compound independent of monoamine reuptake pathways. This trial evaluated oral NSI-189 as monotherapy in major depressive disorder. To improve signal detection, the sequential-parallel comparison design (SPCD) was chosen. Two hundred and twenty subjects were randomized to NSI-189 40 mg daily, 80 mg daily, or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Montogmery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Secondary subject-rated measures included the Symptoms of Depression Questionnaire (SDQ), the Cognitive and Physical Functioning Scale (CPFQ), the patient-rated version of the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Scale (QIDS-SR), and subtests from the CogScreen and Cogstate cognitive tests. MADRS score reduction versus placebo did not reach significance for either dose (40 mg pooled mean difference -1.8, p = 0.22, 80 mg pooled mean difference -1.4, p = 0.34, respectively). However, the 40 mg dose showed greater overall reduction in SDQ (pooled mean difference -8.2; Cohen’s d for Stages 1 and 2 = -0.11 and -0.64, p = 0.04), and CPFQ scores (pooled mean difference -1.9; Cohen’s d for Stages 1 and 2 = -0.28 and -0.47, p = 0.03) versus placebo, as well as QIDS-SR scores in Stage 2 of SPCD (-2.5; Cohen’s d Stages 1 and 2 = -0.03 and -0.68, p = 0.04). The 40 mg dose also showed advantages on some objective cognitive measures of the CogScreen (absolute Cohen’s d ranged between 0.12 and 1.12 in favor of NSI-189, p values between 0.002 and 0.048 for those with overall significance), but not the Cogstate test. Both doses were well tolerated. These findings replicate those of phase 1b study, and warrant further exploration of the antidepressant and pro-cognitive effects of NSI-189.