A random sample of the Swedish general population (n = 1 200), age range 18–80 years, was studied with regard to coping strategies and styles used for handling stressful situations. The total response rate was 65% (n = 519), and coping was assessed by the Jalowiec Coping Scale (JCS). The three most frequently used coping styles were the confrontative, the optimistic and the self-reliant. The three least used styles were the emotive, the supportant and the palliative. There were few differences between the age groups for the total material or for each gender separately. Young (18–29 years) and middle-aged (30–59 years) groups used confrontative and emotive styles significantly more than did the elderly (60–80 years) group. Young and middle-aged women used significantly more optimistic, evasive, emotive and supportant coping than did elderly women. All subscales except the self-reliant showed significant gender differences, with women reporting more frequent use than men. Ethnicity is a major determinant of the use of the emotionally-oriented coping styles. Those of Swedish origin used less of these styles than did those of non-Swedish origin. The results illustrate the importance of using different norm values for the JCS for groups differering in these demographic variables.