Innovation contributes to a firm's long-term competitive advantages but also involves significant risk and uncertainty. As agency theory predicts, CEOs are self-interested and risk-averse, and thus are reluctant to engage in innovation investments. However, the extent to which CEOs are self-interested and the mechanisms through which self-interested CEOs affect firm innovation have not been empirically tested. To fill this gap, we propose that CEOs possess a mix of both self-preserving and other-regarding motives, and build a mediation model in which CEO values affect firm innovation via firms’ long-term orientation. Based on a three-phase (from 2014 to 2016) survey of 436 Chinese manufacturing firms, we find that CEOs with high self-regarding values reduce innovation efforts and performance by damaging a firm's long-term orientation. Moreover, CEO tenure, CEO duality, and environmental uncertainty weaken the relationship between CEO values and firm innovation via long-term orientation. Our study enriches the innovation literature by extending the basic assumptions of agency theory and by providing empirical evidence to determine whether and how self-regarded CEOs affect firm innovation.