Why do some individuals experience intrusive emotional memories following stressful or traumatic events whereas others do not? Attentional control may contribute to the development of such memories by shielding attention to ongoing tasks from affective reactions to task-irrelevant emotional stimuli. The present study investigated whether individual differences in theability to exert cognitive control are associated with experiencing intrusive emotional memories after laboratory trauma. Sixty-one healthy women provided self-reported and experimentally derived measures of attentional control. They then viewed a trauma film in the laboratory and recorded intrusive memories for one week using a diary. Gaze avoidance during trauma film exposure was associated with more intrusive memories. Greater attentional control over emotion prior to film viewing, as assessed with the experimental task, predicted fewer intrusive memories while self-reported attentional control was unrelated to intrusive memories. Preexisting capacity to shield information processing from distraction may protect individuals from developing intrusive emotional memories following exposure to stress or trauma. These findings provide important clues for prevention and intervention science.