To provide insight into the reduced post-stroke all-cause mortality among Mexican Americans, we explored ethnic differences in the pre-stroke prevalence of (1) spirituality, (2) optimism, (3) depression, and (4) fatalism in a Mexican American and non-Hispanic white stroke population. The Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi (BASIC) project is a population-based stroke surveillance study in Nueces County, Texas. Seven hundred ten stroke patients were queried. For fatalism, optimism, and depression scales, unadjusted ethnic comparisons were made using linear regression models. Regression models were also used to explore how age and gender modify the ethnic associations after adjustment for education. For the categorical spirituality variables, ethnic comparisons were made using Fisher's exact tests. Mexican Americans reported significantly more spirituality than non-Hispanic whites. Among women, age modified the ethnic associations with pre-stroke depression and fatalism but not optimism. Mexican American women had more optimism than non-Hispanic white women. With age, Mexican American women had less depression and fatalism, while non-Hispanic white women had more fatalism and similar depression. Among men, after adjustment for education and age, there was no ethnic association with fatalism, depression, and optimism. Spirituality requires further study as a potential mediator of increased survival following stroke among Mexican Americans. Among women, evaluation of the role of optimism, depression, and fatalism as they relate to ethnic differences in post-stroke mortality should be explored.