This article develops and tests a model of the individual and joint effects of various consumer characteristics on health information acquisition behaviors (e.g., using media sources) and health maintenance behaviors (e.g., restricting diet). Theory development overviews the interdisciplinary literature on health and proposes that health motivation independently influences consumers' preventive health behaviors while the effect of health ability on health behaviors is moderated by the level of health motivation. This theory is tested in a survey of 404 consumers. Results indicate that the interaction of health ability and health motivation affects consumers' health behaviors. However, mixed results suggest that high levels of ability and motivation are not always critical precursors of health behaviors; instead, the impact of these characteristics depends on the particular health behavior and the specific health ability characteristic. Implications for theory and practice are discussed. Copyright 1993 by the University of Chicago.