Hostility is a personality trait associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. No study has reported the association between hostility and antioxidants, which may be mediators for atherosclerosis. CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) Study participants were 3,579 men and women 18-30 years of age in 1985-1986. Serum carotenoids and tocopherols were measured at years 0 and 7, and hostility was measured at years 0 and 5. Analysis of covariance was used to test for covariate-adjusted differences in serum carotenoids and tocopherols across quartiles of hostility. After adjustment for age, gender, race, serum lipids, and baseline of the dependent variable, the mean carotenoid values at year 7 of the lowest and highest quartiles of hostility score at year 0 were 3.9 and 3.3 microg/liter for alpha-carotene (p < 0.001), 9.1 and 8.0 microg/liter for beta-cryptoxanthin (p < 0.001), and 50.6 and 46.8 microg/liter for the sum of four carotenoids (p < 0.001). Hostility scores at year 0 were unrelated to year 7 lycopene and tocopherols. In contrast, neither year 0 carotenoids nor tocopherols predicted the hostility score at year 5. High hostility predicted future low levels of some serum carotenoids, which may help to explain the association of hostility and cardiovascular risk observed in other epidemiologic studies.