Subjective well-being was studied in a sample of the elderly by analyzing the relationship among coping strategies, social support, and social-demographic variables. Well-being was defined by life satisfaction and positive and negative affect. There were 123 elderly participants (mean=67.1; standard deviation=6.1) who were residents in João Pessoa, Brazil. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that (a) life satisfaction is higher in: women, people who receive pensions, people who are satisfied with the support they receive, people who give support to others, and people who cope with problems directly and by re-appraising the situation in a positive way; (b) positive affect increases with the satisfaction of the support received, with direct and re-appraisal coping, and with the decrease of coping by avoidance, and (c) negative affect decreases with giving support and increases with coping by avoidance. The results show the differences of the cognitive and affective components of well-being and identify the need to investigate the functional autonomy of the elderly. © 2007 PRC.