This study investigated the role of spiritual and religious beliefs in ambulatory patients coping with malignant melanoma. One-hundred and seventeen patients with melanoma being seen in an outpatient clinic completed a battery of measurements including the newly validated Systems of Belief Inventory (SBI-54). No correlation was found between SBI-54 scores and levels of distress. However, there was a correlation between greater reliance on spiritual and religious beliefs and use of an active-cognitive coping style (r = 0.46, p < 0.0001). Data suggest that use of religious and spiritual beliefs is associated with an active rather than passive form of coping. We suggest that such beliefs provide a helpful active-cognitive framework for many individuals from which to face the existential crises of life-threatening illness.