The current study reflects recent developments in psychotherapy by examining the effect of acceptance-based coping instructions, when compared to the opposite, more control/distraction-based instructions, on cold-pressor pain. Since previous research indicates gender differences in how people cope with pain, we also sought to determine whether differences would be found between healthy men and women. As predicted, results indicated that women reported lower pain threshold and tolerance level than did men. Furthermore, the acceptance-based instruction resulted in lower sensory pain reports when compared to the opposite instructions. Finally, for affective pain, acceptance instructions only benefited women. These results suggest that acceptance-based coping may be particular useful in moderating the way in which individuals, especially women, cope with pain. (c) 2004 European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.