Instrumental behavior can be controlled by goal-directed action–outcome and habitual stimulus–response processes that are supported by anatomically distinct brain systems. Based on previous findings showing that stress modulates the interaction of “cognitive” and “habit” memory systems, we asked in the presented study whether stress may coordinate goal-directed and habit processes in instrumental learning. For this purpose, participants were exposed to stress (socially evaluated cold pressor test) or a control condition before they were trained to perform two instrumental actions that were associated with two distinct food outcomes. After training, one of these food outcomes was selectively devalued as subjects were saturated with that food. Next, subjects were presented the two instrumental actions in extinction. Stress before training in the instrumental task rendered participants' behavior insensitive to the change in the value of the food outcomes, that is stress led to habit performance. Moreover, stress reduced subjects' explicit knowledge of the action–outcome contingencies. These results demonstrate for the first time that stress promotes habits at the expense of goal-directed performance in humans.