Background: Rumination in response to stressful events and depressed mood leads to harmful outcomes. In addition to intrapsychic processes, depression is also associated with daily hassles and major life events. Self-regulatory beliefs such as goal linking could mediate the link between life events, daily hassles, rumination and major depression. Method: The relationships between depressed mood, rumination, goal linking, life events and daily hassles were investigated in a between-groups design. Standardized questionnaire measures of these constructs were used to compare depressed participants with a group of people experiencing psychological distress, but not major depression, and a never-depressed group. Results: Participants with major depression experienced similar numbers of life events as the other groups, though the impact of these was greater for the depressed group than either the psychological distress group or the healthy controls. Depressed participants also experienced greater daily hassles than either of the other two groups. Depressed participants were also higher in goal linking and rumination. Regression analysis demonstrated that neither life events nor goal linking predict rumination or depressed mood. Rumination appears to moderate the relationship between daily hassles and depressed mood. Discussion: Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.