The present study examined the role of a number of cognitive beliefs (i.e. attitude, subjective norm, anticipated regret, and self-efficacy) in explaining the effects of fear appeal information on behavioral motivation. A randomized experiment with a 2 (threat: low versus high) x 2 (coping: low versus high) between-subjects design was used in the study. Undergraduates were exposed to one of four scenario messages that presented high or low threat information about HIV/AIDS combined with high or low coping information with regard to condom use in HIV prevention. Explorative analyses revealed that only anticipated regret qualified as a mediator of the effect of the fear appeal message on intention. High coping information was observed to increase anticipated regret, which increased the intention to use condoms. Anticipated regret mediated the coping-intention relationship. This finding furthers our understanding of the working mechanisms of fear appeals in HIV prevention.