The theory of preventive stress management (TPSM) has contributed to theoretical understanding, empirical exploration and organizational practices since its introduction in 1979. This paper describes the theoretical concepts contained in the theory, reviews the empirical findings based on the theory and outlines the organizational practices associated with the application of the theory. Special attention is given to the contribution of the three principal authors associated with the theory as well as the work of their key collaborators. The impact of the theory is evaluated and discussed. Opportunities for future research based on the TPSM are offered. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.