93 patients with hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer were entered on a prospective study to measure reduction in pain and changes in quality of life (QoL) after the administration of 150 MegaBequerel (MBq) Strontium-89 (Sr-89). QoL was assessed using a validated instrument, the Functional Living Index - Cancer (FLIC) questionnaire. Pain response was measured using the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group scoring system. Overall there was limited QoL improvement over 3 months following Sr-89. However, in the 53 patients (63%) achieving pain responses, QoL did significantly improve within 6 weeks of receiving Sr-89 compared to patients with stable or worsening bone pain, and this was independent of other parameters that might influence QoL outcomes, such as performance status, baseline PSA and extent of skeletal disease (P = 0.004). PSA 'response' occurred in 30 patients (37%) over 4 months after Sr-89. This did not appear to correlate with clinical improvement. This study supports the presumption that improvement in pain following Sr-89 is accompanied by better QoL. The lack of correlation of PSA response and clinical parameters indicates that in the palliative setting, PSA may not provide a useful surrogate for treatment outcome.