Personality, environmental adversity and psychopathology are related, and different models have been proposed to explain their interaction. The theory of person–environment transactions may elucidate the role of personality in these interactions beyond traditional conceptualizations. To our knowledge, hardly any studies have explored the relationships between the Five Factor Model, child sexual victimization and general psychopathology. We hypothesized (1) that neuroticism and conscientiousness will moderate the effect of sexual victimization on psychopathology and (2) that neuroticism will mediate the relationship between sexual victimization and psychopathology. Our findings partially support these hypotheses. Neuroticism, conscientiousness and sexual victimization have a direct effect on psychopathology, whereas extraversion, openness to experience and agreeableness do not. With regard to interactive effects, conscientiousness, but not neuroticism, moderates the effect of sexual victimization on psychopathology, and neuroticism does mediate the aforementioned effect. No other interactions were found with regard to extraversion, agreeableness or openness to experience. To our knowledge, the present study represents the first global test of person–environment transactions with regard to psychopathology and sexual victimization within the framework of the Five Factor Model. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.