Serotonergic hypofunction is associated with a depressive mood state, an increased drive to eat and preference for sweet (SW) foods. High-trait anxiety individuals are characterised by a functional shortage of serotonin during stress, which in turn increases their susceptibility to experience a negative mood and an increased drive for SW foods. The present study examined whether an acute dietary manipulation, intended to increase circulating serotonin levels, alleviated the detrimental effects of a stress-inducing task on subjective appetite and mood sensations, and preference for SW foods in high-trait anxiety individuals. Thirteen high- (eleven females and two males; anxiety scores 45·5 (sd 5·9); BMI 22·9 (sd 3·0)kg/m2) and twelve low- (ten females and two males; anxiety scores 30·4 (sd 4·8); BMI 23·4 (sd 2·5) kg/m2) trait anxiety individuals participated in a placebo-controlled, two-way crossover design. Participants were provided with 40 g α-lactalbumin (LAC; l-tryptophan (Trp):large neutral amino acids (LNAA) ratio of 7·6) and 40 g casein (placebo) (Trp:LNAA ratio of 4·0) in the form of a snack and lunch on two test days. On both the test days, participants completed a stress-inducing task 2 h after the lunch. Mood and appetite were assessed using visual analogue scales. Changes in food hedonics for different taste and nutrient combinations were assessed using a computer task. The results demonstrated that the LAC manipulation did not exert any immediate effects on mood or appetite. However, LAC did have an effect on food hedonics in individuals with high-trait anxiety after acute stress. These individuals expressed a lower liking (P = 0·012) and SW food preference (P = 0·014) after the stressful task when supplemented with LAC.