This article discusses how self-regulatory models can be used to understand people's response to health threats. The article begins with a general discussion of the principles and assumptions of self-regulatory models of behavior. Two distinct lines of research are then presented addressing two important processes of adaptive self-regulation. First, we provide a brief overview of the literature on optimism and adjustment to chronic disease and other health outcomes. Second, we present an overview of the process of disengagement from unattainable goals, focusing on recent research. We close by making recommendations for future research.