The study investigated theory of mind and central coherence abilities in adults with high-functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger syndrome (AS) using naturalistic tasks. Twenty adults with HFA/AS correctly answered significantly fewer theory of mind questions than 20 controls on a forced-choice response task. On a narrative task, there were no differences in the proportion of mental state words between the two groups, although the participants with HFA/AS were less inclined to provide explanations for characters' mental states. No between-group differences existed on the central coherence questions of the forced-choice response task, and the participants with HFA/AS included an equivalent proportion of explanations for non-mental state phenomena in their narratives as did controls. These results support the theory of mind deficit account of autism spectrum disorders, and suggest that difficulties in mental state attribution cannot be exclusively attributed to weak central coherence.