Late adolescents (N = 256; Mage = 17.5) who spent a larger proportion of their early life in poverty exhibited less persistence when confronted by a challenging task. Greater chaos during early adolescence also predicted less task persistence at age 17. However, the effects of poverty were moderated by chaos such that if chaos levels were high during early adolescence, task persistence was uniformly lower among late adolescents, irrespective of childhood poverty. Only when chaos levels were relatively low did poverty matter for future task persistence. Furthermore, the interactive effects of chaos and early childhood poverty were independent of child ability, and of concurrent chaos and poverty.