In this experimental study we integrate transformational leadership theory with recent theoretical considerations and research on core self-evaluations (cse) in a contingency approach to leadership. We analyze to what extent high state cse may represent a substitute for transformational leadership in terms of its influence on follower motivation and performance. In a 2 × 2-design the relationship between transformational leadership and followers' motivation and performance is compared for followers with high versus low state cse. Participants (76 students) were randomly assigned to four groups. High or low state cse was activated through a priming manipulation. After that, participants were presented with a written vignette of a transformational or a nontransformational leader who instructs them to perform the subsequent task, a word-search puzzle. Results reveal that followers' state cse moderated the relationship between transformational leadership and followers' motivation and performance. As expected, followers' state cse represents a substitute for transformational leadership. Results are discussed for leadership research and management practice.