The purposes of this study were to (1) determine the occupational stressors, coping strategies, and sources and types of social support of nurse executives; (2) compare the sample's level of psychologic symptomatology with norms; and (3) examine the effects of stress, social support, and optimism in predicting psychologic well-being. Public health nursing directors located throughout California participated in the study. Mailed questionnaire booklets were used to collect data from the target population. A subset of the sample participated in face-to-face, taped, structured interviews that elicited additional data on nurse executives' work stress, coping strategies, and social support dimensions. Several significant findings emerged. The mean psychologic symptom score for the subjects was greater than the published norm, suggesting psychologic distress. In regression analysis, total number of years in nursing accounted for 14.8% of the variance in psychologic symptoms, the dependent variable. Level of optimism accounted for an additional 29.8% of the variance. Total hassles and co-worker social support together accounted for 6.57% of the variance in the last step, but were not statistically significant. Interview data identified the major occupational stressors, coping strategies, and sources and types of social support for this group of nursing directors.