The current study examined the sequential development of job burnout and job engagement and their related antecedents (job demands, job resources and personality) using a three-wave longitudinal design. We collected usable responses from 160 Information Technology employees in China. Using M-plus 5.0, we compared four models: the exhaustion–cynicism–inefficacy model of burnout and the vigour–dedication–absorption model of engagement, the exhaustion–cynicism–inefficacy model of burnout and the dedication–absorption–vigour model of engagement, the cynicism–inefficacy–exhaustion model of burnout and the dedication–absorption–vigour model of engagement and the cynicism–inefficacy–exhaustion model of burnout and the vigour–dedication– absorption model of engagement. The results of the model comparisons revealed that the last model had the best fit with the data. In addition, we found that job demands, job resources and personality influenced burnout and engagement in different ways. The results showed that the pathways from job demands/job resources to burnout/engagement were robust and direct, whereas personality had both a direct influence and an indirect influence (through job demands/resources) on burnout/engagement. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.