Two studies examined the effect of self-image threat on the use of social comparisons by those who have high and low trait self-esteem. In the absence of threat, trait high and low self-esteem people engaged in similar social comparison processes. When threatened, however, trait high self-esteem people made more downward social comparisons and trait low self-esteem people made more upward social comparisons. In Study 1, these effects were found for comparisons against an interaction partner and against generalized others. Study 1 also showed that state self-esteem rose among high self-esteem participants because they made downward social comparisons. Study 2 linked social comparisons to interpersonal likability and found that people with high trait self-esteem were liked less by perceivers when they made downward comparisons, whereas those with low trait self-esteem were liked more when they made upward comparisons. Discussion focuses on the interrelations among trait self-esteem, self-concept, and interpersonal perceptions in the context of self-defense.