Cardiovascular effects of gender-specific ability perceptions (ability perceptions linked to one's identity as being female or male) were examined under different task conditions. In Study I, participants were led to believe that either men (masculine task) or women (feminine task) tend to do well on a memory task and then were provided the chance to avoid noise by attaining a low or high performance standard. As expected, sex differences in systolic blood pressure response during performance depended not only on task type but also on the degree of challenge. In Study 2, high standard effects were strengthened and extended through the use of an appetitive procedure and the inclusion of conditions in which the performance standard was extreme. Findings are discussed in terms of an interactional analysis of ability percepts, task demand, and cardiovascular responsivity.