Background The population-based study examined postulated effects, derived from a resources-demands-model about gender-related aspects of self-efficacy, optimism, chronic stress, and exhaustion. Methods Data acquisition was carried out by a market research institute with a multi-topic questionnaire in the general population (N = 2,552). Instruments administered were the Questionnaire for Self-Efficacy and Optimism, the Trier Inventory for Chronic Stress, and the Chalder-Fatigue-Scale. Households and target persons were selected randomly. The analyses focused on structural equation modeling. Results There were significant differences in structural relations among the resource paths. In particular, significant gender differences were found with respect to self-efficacy, and among the exhaustion paths, namely in the mental dimension of exhaustion. The observed measures of chronic stress were found to be operating equivalently for both genders. Results suggest that resources play an important role in the understanding of how chronic stress is preceded and may lead to exhaustion in both genders. Conclusion Personal resources seem to be more expressed by men than by woman, for whom the relation of resources to health is of greater importance than for men.