Patterns and predictors of psychological distress in first-degree female relatives (N = 624) of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients were explored. First-degree female relatives who were high monitors reported greater cancer-specific and general distress than did low monitors. Greater optimism was associated with lower cancer-specific distress. Optimism's effect on general distress was moderated by women's level of monitoring. Greater optimism was associated with lower general distress for both high and low monitors, but the effect was stronger for high monitors than for low monitors. Avoidance and engaged coping were associated with higher distress. A close relationship with the cancer patient was related to higher cancer-specific distress but lower general distress. Further understanding of the process of adjustment in these women awaits longitudinal study.