The impact of occupational stressful life events on psychological distress and blood pressure was examined among employees of a major New York City brokerage firm undergoing massive layoffs. One hundred thirty-nine employees of the firm, who had participated in a blood pressure screening in 1986, were rescreened during the period of layoffs within their company in 1989. About two-thirds of the 139 employees reported being "somewhat" or "very" anxious or upset in 1989 during the period of layoffs, and psychological distress was significantly elevated among those employees reporting possible or definite layoff or job change and/or difficulty in obtaining a comparable job. However, we found no increase in overall blood pressure level, and no effect of anticipation of job loss on 1989 blood pressure when controlling for 1986 blood pressure level, age, body mass index, work hours, and other demographic variables. On the other hand, employment in a department sold to another employer on the day of screening, as well as employment in a clerical job title, were both associated with significant increases in diastolic blood pressure of about 5 mm Hg.