Background: Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) and childhood maltreatment have been proposed to constitute a subgroup with worse illness course and outcomes. To elucidate a potential social cognitive vulnerability in this subgroup, this study compared the emotion decoding abilities of MDD patients with and without a history of childhood maltreatment. Methods: Participants with a diagnosis of MDD were recruited from nationwide mental health organizations. Emotion decoding abilities were assessed using the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, while childhood maltreatment was measured with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire. Results: The MDD patients with a history of childhood maltreatment exhibited poorer emotion decoding abilities than MDD patients without such past. This difference applied specifically to the decoding of positive and negative emotions, while no group differences emerged for the decoding of neutral emotions. When specific maltreatment types were considered as predictors only emotional neglect was associated with lower emotion decoding abilities. These associations remained when adjusting for demographic and clinical covariates. Conclusions: By indicating that emotion decoding difficulties characterize the MDD subgroup with childhood maltreatment, the findings highlight a potential vulnerability that merits further examination in terms of its developmental antecedents and prognostic relevance.