Objectives: Religious social support may in part account for the relationship between religious involvement and health-related outcomes. African Americans, on average, tend to have relatively high levels of religious involvement, and suffer a higher burden of health conditions than other groups. This study aimed to examine whether religious social support played a mediating role between religious involvement and physical and emotional functioning, and depressive symptoms.Design: The study used a cross sectional telephone survey among a national probability sample of African Americans (n = 803). Study participants completed telephone interviews and data were analysed using structural equation modelling.Main outcome measures: Physical and emotional functioning and depressive symptoms served as study outcomes.Results: In both the emotional functioning and depressive symptoms models, the indirect effect test from religious behaviours to emotional religious support indicated evidence for mediation. There was no mediation for the physical functioning model.Conclusion: Implications for faith-based health promotion interventions are discussed. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.