Although previous studies indicate a negative association between caregivers' anger and health, the potential mechanisms linking this relationship are not yet fully understood. The aim of this study was to explore the potential mediating role of optimism in the relationship between anger and caregivers' physical health. Dementia caregivers (n = 108) were interviewed and filled out instruments assessing their anger (reaction), optimism and health (vitality). A mediational model was tested to determine whether optimism partially mediated the relationship between anger and vitality. Angry reaction was negatively associated with optimism and vitality; optimism was positively associated with vitality. Finally, the relationship between angry reaction and vitality decreased when optimism was entered simultaneously. A non-parametric bootstrap approach confirmed that optimism significantly mediated some of the relationship between angry reaction and vitality. These findings suggest that low optimism may help explain the association between caregivers' anger and reduced sense of vitality. The results provide a specific target for intervention with caregivers. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.