There is scant knowledge of the effects of country of birth on the health of individuals in the years prior to and after retirement. The aim of this study was to consider country of birth in relation to health status, instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and all-cause mortality when adjusted for socioeconomic status (SES). Cross-sectional data were collected between 1986 and 1991 on 8959 individuals between the ages of 55 and 74. Self-reported data were analysed using a logistic regression model while the mortality data were analysed by means of a proportional hazard model. In the present study, immigrants from Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and Finland carried significantly increased risks of poor health even after adjustment for SES. Southern Europeans, refugees from Developing countries and Finns exhibited an increased risk of impaired IADL compared to Swedes, even after adjustment for SES. In conclusion, country of birth was associated with poor health status and impaired IADL. This association remained after adjustment for SES. In accordance with pre-study expectations, mortality was predicted by impaired IADL and male gender. Country of birth was not associated with all-cause mortality.