The field of health status and quality of life (QoL) measurement - as a formal discipline with a cohesive theoretical framework, accepted methods, and diverse applications--has been evolving for the better part of 30 years. To identify health status and QoL instruments and review them against rigorous criteria as a precursor to creating an instrument library for later dissemination, the Medical Outcomes Trust in 1994 created an independently functioning Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). In the mid-1990s, the SAC defined a set of attributes and criteria to carry out instrument assessments; 5 years later, it updated and revised these materials to take account of the expanding theories and technologies upon which such instruments were being developed. This paper offers the SAC's current conceptualization of eight key attributes of health status and QoL instruments (i.e., conceptual and measurement model; reliability; validity; responsiveness; interpretability; respondent and administrative burden; alternate forms; and cultural and language adaptations) and the criteria by which instruments would be reviewed on each of those attributes. These are suggested guidelines for the field to consider and debate; as measurement techniques become both more familiar and more sophisticated, we expect that experts will wish to update and refine these criteria accordingly.