This study examined the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on infant hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis activity and reactivity at 7 months of infant age. Participants were 168 caregiver–infant dyads (87 cocaine exposed, 81 not cocaine exposed; 47% boys). Maternal behavior, caregiving instability, and infant growth and behavior were assessed, and children’s saliva was sampled before, during, and after standardized procedures designed to elicit emotional arousal. Results revealed cocaine-exposed infants had a high amplitude trajectory of cortisol reactivity compared to non-cocaine-exposed infants. Infant gender and caregiving instability moderated this association. The findings support a dual hazard vulnerability model and have implications for evolutionary-developmental theories of individual differences in biological sensitivity to context.