We derived a model of appraisal, coping, and adaptation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) from the more general theory of Lazarus and Folkman (1984) and examined this model using a longitudinal data set spanning 4 years and involving 239 RA patients (of whom 157 contributed to the primary analyses, with the remainder contributing to various follow-up analyses). This model attempted to identify the short- and long-term adaptational consequences of coping as well as the antecedents (appraisals, beliefs, social support, disease activity, etc.) that promote particular coping styles. Interrelations among the variables were examined using path-analytic techniques. Many observed relations were consistent with the model. Significant relations were subjected to more stringent analyses examining the ability of hypothesized causal variables to predict changes in outcome variables 1 year later. These analyses provided additional support for many observed relations and suggested the existence of a vicious cycle involving helplessness appraisals, passive coping with pain, and psychosocial impairment that promotes maladaptation in the face of RA. Theoretical implications, strengths, and limitations of the study are discussed.