We tested whether children with and without high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) differ in their understanding of the influence of mood states on behaviour. A total of 122 children with HFASD or typical development were asked to predict and explain the behaviour of story characters during hypothetical social interactions. HFASD and typically developing children predicted at equal rates that mood states likely result in similar valenced behaviour. 'Explicit' descriptions were used to explain predictions more often by children with HFASD than by typically developing children. However, 'implicit' and 'irrelevant' descriptions elicited fewer mood references among HFASD children. Furthermore, they less often referred to the uncertainty of the influence of mood on behaviour, and less often used mood-related explanations, in particular when they had to rely on implicit information. This may indicate a rote- rather than self-generated understanding of emotions in children with HFASD. © SAGE Publications, Inc. 2007.