The aim of this study was to evaluate the stress levels and stress coping strategies of nursing students in their first operating room experience. This descriptive study was done with 126 nursing students who were having an experience in an operating room for the first time. Data were collected by using Personal Information Form, Clinical Stress Questionnaire, and Styles of Coping Inventory. The nursing students mostly had low clinical stress levels (M = 27.56, SD = 10.76) and adopted a self-confident approach in coping with stress (M = 14.3, SD = 3.58). The nursing students generally employed a helpless/self-accusatory approach among passive patterns as their clinical stress levels increased, used a self-confident and optimistic approach among active patterns as their average age increased, and those who had never been to an operating room previously used a submissive approach among passive patterns. The results showed that low levels of stress caused the nursing students to use active patterns in coping with stress, whereas increasing levels of stress resulted in employing passive patterns in stress coping. The nursing students should be ensured to maintain low levels of stress and use active patterns in stress coping. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.