The effect of dispositional optimism on recovery from coronary artery bypass surgery was examined in a group of 51 middle-aged men. Patients provided information at three points in time--(a) on the day before surgery, (b) 6-8 days postoperatively, and (c) 6 months postoperatively. Information was obtained relating to the patient's rate of physical recovery, mood, and postsurgical quality of life. Information was also gathered regarding the manner in which the patients attempted to cope with the stress of the surgery and its aftermath. As expected, dispositional optimism proved to be an important predictor of coping efforts and of surgical outcomes. More specifically, dispositional optimism (as assessed prior to surgery) correlated positively with manifestations of problem-focused coping and negatively with the use of denial. Dispositional optimism was also associated with a faster rate of physical recovery during the period of hospitalization and with a faster rate of return to normal life activities subsequent to discharge. Finally, there was a strong positive association between level of optimism and postsurgical quality of life at 6 months.