The study aims to (i) describe regional variation and gender differences in health status of older people (60 years and older) in Bangladesh, indicated by self-reported health problems and functional ability; (ii) explore influence of socio-economic factors on health status of older people. In a cross-sectional study in rural and urban Bangladesh, 696 older persons were asked about their health problems and ability to manage activities of daily living (ADL). More than 95% of older people reported health problems. Approximately 80% of elderly women in both the regions reported having four or more health problems compared with 42% and 63% elderly men in the urban and rural regions, respectively. More women (urban: 55%; rural: 36%) than men (urban: 32%; rural: 22%) also reported difficulties with ADL. Irrespective of age, sex and area of residence, those reporting greater number of health problems were more likely to report difficulty with at least one ADL task. Reporting pattern of specific health problems varied between urban and rural regions. Socio-economic indicators were found to have little influence on reporting of health problems, particularly in the rural region. Observed regional difference may be related to the influence of social and environmental factors, and level of awareness concerning certain health conditions.