The association among life events, personality factors, and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents was assessed in 28 children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), 28 children with other anxiety disorders (AD), and 24 normal controls using the Life Events Checklist (LEC) and the Junior Temperament and Character Inventory (JTCI). No significant differences were found among the groups for demographic and clinical characteristics. Children with OCD had significantly more total life events and more negative life events in the year before onset than normal controls, and they perceived the life events as having more impact. Scores for children with other AD fell between the other two groups for most of the life event parameters. The only specific life event that distinguished children with AD from normal controls was major illness or injury of a relative. High anxiety levels and older age-but not depression level-predicted a greater perceived impact of life events. Children with OCD and other AD both scored higher than normal controls on the harm avoidance parameter of the JTCI. Harm avoidance scores correlated positively and significantly with the reported occurrence of negative life events and their perceived impact. Thus, quantity, quality, and specificity of life events may be associated with AD in young people, especially OCD. This association may be related to the personality characteristic of harm avoidance.