Interactive effects of social anxiety, anticipatory processing and gender on cardiovascular reactivity to a social stressor were examined as well as effects of these factors on cognitive and affective processes. Participants were 128 normotensive subjects (64 men, 64 women)who were preclassified according to their level of social anxiety. Following a ten minute resting phase they were assigned to either a five minute period of stressor anticipation or distraction. This was followed by the social stressor in form of preparing a speech for five minutes and then performing it for five minutes. Systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and heart rate (HR) were measured at given intervals. In terms of cardiovascular reactivity, stronger HR increases in low socially anxious (LSA) were found during anticipation/distraction, whereas high socially anxious (HSA)showed prolonged HR recovery. As regards cognitive appraisals, HSA and women perceived the task as more difficult and their own abilities to successfully master it as lower than LSA and men. Furthermore, during the anticipation / distraction period HSA of the anticipation condition experienced stronger increases in negative affect than other participants. It was also found that HSA and individuals of the distraction condition experienced more pronounced increases in negative affect during the speech compared to LSA and those of the anticipation condition. Finally, HSA individuals ruminated more than LSA individuals. In general this study found support for some of the current theories as well as some new findings that merit further research.