Personality and coping were specified as predictors of emotional outcomes of a mildly stressful medical procedure. Situation-specific coping was examined in contrast to dispositional coping, and it was tested whether one or the other would mediate the relationship between higher-order personality factors and stress outcomes. Cataract patients (N=110) participated at four measurement points in time during a six-week period surrounding their scheduled surgery. Dispositional coping did not mediate the personality–outcome relationship. In contrast, situation-specific coping acquired a mediator status between personality and adaptational criteria and accounted for independent outcome variance once personality traits were included as predictors in the models. Thus, the data suggest that whether or not coping mediates between personality factors and affective outcomes may be related to the methodological approaches of its operationalization. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.