The ratio of short- to long-period amplitude is expressed in terms of apparent stress, rigidity times energy over moment (μEG/M0), for 277 earthquakes in California. A map showing the apparent stresses is compiled. In general, the Mendocino and San Andreas faults as well as the Gulf of California area are regions of large surface-wave excitation and little short-period radiation (low apparent stress). Away from the main fault zones, the apparent stresses tend to be higher. Regions of conspicuously low surface-wave excitation (high apparent stress) are the Laguna Salada-Sierra Juarez region in northern Baja California, the California-Nevada border region north of Bishop, and the region associated with the bend of the San Andreas between San Bernardino and San Gorgonio Mountain. A detailed comparison of earthquakes with accurately-known depths at Parkfield and Borrego Mountain indicates two important differences in apparent stresses between these two source regions. The apparent stress at all depths is larger at Borrego Mountain than at Parkfield, and it increases with depth at Borrego Mountain, whereas it remains constant at all depths at Parkfield. The explanation for the variation of surface-wave excitation (apparent stress) is not known for certain, but it could be related to variations in true stress.