Abstract Objectives The present paper examined the roles of achievement orientation, perception of the motivational climate, and perceived ability on performance trait anxiety in a sample of national level elite athletes. Gender differences in these relationships were also examined. Design Cross-sectional. Methods One hundred and ninety national elite athletes (male, n=101 and female, n=89) from individual sport completed Norwegian measures of goal orientation, perceived motivational climate, perceived ability, and multidimensional performance anxiety. Results Female and male national elite athletes were similar in achievement orientations and had similar perceptions of the motivational climate. Females reported higher levels of performance worry, concentration disruption and somatic anxiety than males. Orientations did not predict performance anxiety for either gender, however perceptions of a performance climate predicted performance worry for both genders, and concentration disruption for females. Perceived ability predicted less performance worry for females and males. Perceived ability did not moderate the effects of the perceived motivational climate on performance anxiety, and neither did the results meet the criteria for testing mediation. Conclusions The extant motivational climate has an effect on performance anxiety, and coaches would be well advised to consider this when working with national elite athletes.