Several studies have investigated the neural basis of effortful emotion regulation (ER) but the neural basis of automatic ER has been less comprehensively explored. The present study investigated the neural basis of automatic ER supported by 'implementation intentions'. 40 healthy participants underwent fMRI while viewing emotion-eliciting images and used either a previously-taught effortful ER strategy, in the form of a goal intention (e.g., try to take a detached perspective), or a more automatic ER strategy, in the form of an implementation intention (e.g., "If I see something disgusting, then I will think these are just pixels on the screen!"), to regulate their emotional response. Whereas goal intention ER strategies were associated with activation of brain areas previously reported to be involved in effortful ER (including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), ER strategies based on an implementation intention strategy were associated with activation of right inferior frontal gyrus and ventro-parietal cortex, which may reflect the attentional control processes automatically captured by the cue for action contained within the implementation intention. Goal intentions were also associated with less effective modulation of left amygdala, supporting the increased efficacy of ER under implementation intention instructions, which showed coupling of orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala. The findings support previous behavioural studies in suggesting that forming an implementation intention enables people to enact goal-directed responses with less effort and more efficiency.