This study explored the relationship between trait and ability emotional intelligence (EI) and Borderline personality disorder (BPD) criteria in 523 nonclinical adults. Ability EI was assessed using the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and trait EI using the Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale (SEIS). We assessed the four features of BPD identified by Morey (1991): affective instability, identity disturbance, negative relationships and self-harm, and each of the nine BPD DSM-IV (APA, 2000) criteria. Results suggested that persons with BPD traits are deficient in multiple aspects of trait EI (r = −.04 to −.70), but especially management of one’s emotions. For ability EI effect sizes were smaller (r = .01 to −.36). As expected, poor emotion management ability was important in BPD, and was negatively related to all BPD features/criteria. Poor emotional understanding was also important. These findings extend past work regarding the emotional functioning of nonclinical persons with BPD features. The role of ability and trait emotion management in BPD is consistent with Linehan’s (1993) emotion dysregulation theory of the disorder.