We examined the relation of social problem-solving abilities to distress experienced by family members assuming a caregiving role for a loved one who had recently incurred a severe physical disability. Family members completed measures of problem-solving, depression and health, while their loved one participated in an inpatient rehabilitation programme. Correlational analyses indicated that a negative problem orientation was significantly predictive of caregiver distress, regardless of the degree of physical impairment of the care recipient. Women reported more distress on several measures than men, and disability severity was also associated with depression and impaired social functioning. Family members with a greater negative orientation may be at risk to develop psychological and health problems upon assuming a caregiver role. These results are discussed in light of theoretical models of social problem-solving, and implications are presented for psychological interventions and for health policy concerning family caregivers and their care recipients.