Background: Anxiety disorders and depression are highly prevalent in children and affect their current and future functioning. 'FRIENDS for Life' is a cognitive-behavioural programme teaching children skills to cope more effectively with feelings of anxiety and depression. Although 'FRIENDS for Life' is increasingly being implemented at Dutch schools, its effectiveness as a preventive intervention in Dutch schools has never been investigated. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of 'FRIENDS for Life' as an indicated school-based prevention programme for children with early or mild signs of anxiety or depression. Methods/Design: This study is a controlled trial with one pre-intervention and three post-intervention measurements (directly after, and 6 and 12 months after the end of the programme). The study sample consists of children aged 10-12 years (grades 6, 7 and 8 of Dutch primary schools), who show symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Data are collected through self-report, teacher report and peer nomination. A process evaluation is conducted to investigate programme integrity (whether the pr Discussion: The present study will provide insight into the effectiveness of 'FRIENDS for Life' as an indicated school-based prevention programme for children with early or mild signs of anxiety or depression.