We determined the current quality of life (QoL) of patients with Hodgkin's disease treated at the Innsbruck University Hospital between 1969 and 1994 at a mean time of 9.1 +/- 7.0 years after their initial treatment. Further aims of our study were to assess potential differences in objective treatment outcome and QoL between patients treated with chemo-, radio- or combined modality therapy and those enrolled in randomised clinical trials or treated according to standard procedures. The QLQ-C30, a health-related and validated self-report questionnaire developed by the Study Group on Quality of Life of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) was mailed to a cohort of 194 survivors out of a total of 225 patients with Hodgkin's disease; 126 of them (64.9%) returned the completed questionnaire. The 5- and 10-year overall survival rates for the total group of 225 patients were 94.3% and 84.9%, respectively. Irrespective of stage, higher relapse-free survival rates were observed in patients receiving combined modality treatment (P = 0.025). Five-year relapse-free survival rates were 96.6% for patients enrolled in clinical trials and 82.8% for patients treated outside of randomised studies (P = 0.037 in univariate and P = 0.064 in multivariate analysis). Patients treated with combined modality regimens had reduced QoL scores in comparison with those treated with either radiation or chemotherapy alone, but QoL parameters did not differ between patients enrolled in clinical trials and those treated according to standard procedures. Patients with Hodgkin's disease had an excellent long-term prognosis and very high QoL scores a mean of 9.1 years after treatment of their disease. The improved relapse-free survival rates achieved by combined modality regimens must be carefully weighed against the accompanying reduced QoL, since lower relapse rates did not translate into a survival advantage.