Aviation security strongly depends on screeners' performance in the detection of threat objects in x-ray images of passenger bags. We examined for the first time the effects of stress and stress-induced cortisol increases on detection performance of hidden weapons in an x-ray baggage screening task. We randomly assigned 48 participants either to a stress or a nonstress group. The stress group was exposed to a standardized psychosocial stress test (TSST). Before and after stress/nonstress, participants had to detect threat objects in a computer-based object recognition test (X-ray ORT). We repeatedly measured salivary cortisol and X-ray ORT performance before and after stress/nonstress. Cortisol increases in reaction to psychosocial stress induction but not to nonstress independently impaired x-ray detection performance. Our results suggest that stress-induced cortisol increases at peak reactivity impair x-ray screening performance.