Objective: Anatomy training requires students to take courses involving the dissection of human cadavers. It is suspected that such tuition is stressful for some students more than for others. Terror management theory suggests that the mortality salience presented by cadaver dissections would heighten stress among those students with positive self-images. The present study sought to investigate the association between body esteem (BE) and cardiovascular stress reactivity to cadaver dissections.Methods: The study involved the measurement of cardiovascular stress responses in 36 anatomy students during a dissection class. Psychometric assessments of BE and other variables were taken.Results: Students with high BE had lower heart rate (P = .011) and exhibited greater decreases in systolic blood pressure (P = .008) and pulse pressure (P = .003) throughout the session, suggestive of maladaptive stress response.Conclusions: As findings are consistent with theories linking BE with stress in occupations that require workers to view dead bodies, the consideration of BE may be an effective component in stress reduction interventions. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.