This study was designed to examine whether self-esteem can be used as a source of evaluative conditioning, and whether implicit or explicit self-esteem was more predictive of the evaluative conditioning effect. Moreover, the role of contingency awareness in the acquisition of the evaluative conditioning effect was also examined. Words related to the self and a general other were served as unconditioned stimuli (USs) in the evaluative conditioning process in order to see whether the evaluation could be transferred to neutral, abstract paintings after 10 times of pairing. An evaluative conditioning effect was demonstrated in that the evaluation of the paintings became more positive after repeatedly paired with words about the self but not words about general others. Implicit self-esteem predicted the magnitude of the evaluative conditioning effect, while the association between explicit self-esteem and the evaluative conditioning effect was nonsignificant, both with and without the effect of contingency awareness being controlled for. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.