Two-hundred seventy-six volunteers completed a life stressor interview and psychological questionnaires and provided blood and urine samples. They were then inoculated with common cold viruses and monitored for the onset of disease. Although severe acute stressful life events (less than 1 month long) were not associated with developing colds, severe chronic stressors (1 month or longer) were associated with a substantial increase in risk of disease. This relation was attributable primarily to under- or unemployment and to enduring interpersonal difficulties with family or friends. The association between chronic stressors and susceptibility to colds could not be fully explained by differences among stressed and nonstressed persons in social network characteristics, personality, health practices, or prechallenge endocrine or immune measures.