Background There is increasing recognition that physician wellness is critical; it not only benefits the provider, but also influences quality and patient care outcomes. Despite this, resident physicians suffer from a high rate of burnout and personal distress. Individuals with higher emotional intelligence (EI) are thought to perceive, process, and regulate emotions more effectively, which can lead to enhanced well-being and less emotional disturbance. This study sought to understand the relationship between EI and wellness among surgical residents. Study Design Residents in a single general surgery residency program were surveyed on a voluntary basis. Emotional intelligence was measured using the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Short Form. Resident wellness was assessed with the Dupuy Psychological General Well-Being Index, Maslach Burnout Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form. Emotional intelligence and wellness parameters were correlated using Pearson coefficients. Multivariate analysis was performed to identify factors predictive of well-being. Results Seventy-three residents participated in the survey (response rate 63%). Emotional intelligence scores correlated positively with psychological well-being (r = 0.74; p < 0.001) and inversely with depression (r = −0.69, p < 0.001) and 2 burnout parameters, emotional exhaustion (r = −0.69; p < 0.001) and depersonalization (r = −0.59; p < 0.001). In regression analyses controlling for demographic factors such as sex, age, and relationship status, EI was strongly predictive of well-being (β = 0.76; p < 0.001), emotional exhaustion (β = −0.63; p < 0.001), depersonalization (β = −0.48; p = 0.002), and depression (β = −0.60; p < 0.001). Conclusions Emotional intelligence is a strong predictor of resident well-being. Prospectively measuring EI can identify those who are most likely to thrive in surgical residency. Interventions to increase EI can be effective at optimizing the wellness of residents.