The authors investigated implications of agonistic onset for anxiety and dispersive motivation in maturing wild house mouse males (Mus domesticus). Laboratory-kept fraternal pairs either developed agonistic dominance or stayed amicable during their first 2 months of life, when the authors assessed open-field behavior and dispersal propensity. State anxiety was lower in amicable than agonistic males and higher in subordinate than dominant ones. During subsequent dispersal trials, 1 dominant and 1 amicable male from 2 fraternal pairs were concomitantly introduced into seminatural enclosures containing 3 females. One male invariably became territorial. The defeated males, if previously dominant, dispersed at significantly higher rates than if previously amicable. The authors conclude that agonistic onset during development represents an adaptive behavioral switch from a submissive-philopatric to agonistic-dispersive coping strategy.