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Grades often decline during the high school transition, creating stress. The present research integrates the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat with the implicit theories model to understand who shows maladaptive stress responses. A diary study measured declines in grades in the first few months of high school: salivary cortisol and daily stress appraisals. Students who reported a fixed mindset showed higher cortisol when grades were declining. Moreover, daily academic stressors showed a different lingering effect on the next day's cortisol for those with different implicit theories. Findings support a process model through which beliefs affect biological stress responses during difficult adolescent transitions.