Authentic leadership has received considerable attention and research support over the past decade. Now the time has come to refine and better understand how it impacts performance. This study investigates the moderating role followers' positive psychological capital (PsyCap) and the mediating role that leader–member exchange (LMX) may play in influencing the relationship between authentic leadership and followers' performance. Specifically, we tested this mediated moderation model with matched data from 794 followers and their immediate leaders. We found that authentic leadership is positively related to LMX and consequently followers' performance, and to a larger degree, among followers who have low rather than high levels of PsyCap. Our discussion highlights the benefits of understanding the roles of relational processes and followers' positive psychological resources involved in the effectiveness of authentic leadership and how they can be practically implemented. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.