Some complex thinking requires active guidance by the self, but simpler mental activities do not. Depletion of the self’s regulatory resources should therefore impair the former and not the latter. Resource depletion was manipulated by having some participants initially regulate attention (Studies 1 and 3) or emotion (Study 2). As compared with no-regulation participants who did not perform such exercises, depleted participants performed worse at logic and reasoning (Study 1), cognitive extrapolation (Study 2), and a test of thoughtful reading comprehension (Study 3). The same manipulations failed to cause decrements on a test of general knowledge (Study 2) or on memorization and recall of nonsense syllables (Study 3). Successful performance at complex thinking may therefore rely on limited regulatory resources.