Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) face considerable physical, social and emotional disabilities. In this chronic disease, for which a cure is not yet available, improving patients' health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is of the utmost concern, particularly as the use of long-term and potentially toxic therapy increases. Early HRQoL outcome measures in RA focused on physical functioning, but the social and emotional aspects of the disease are now increasingly important. Thus, several generic and RA-specific HRQoL instruments have been developed, but no one tool covers all areas of HRQoL that affect the patient with RA. For this reason, a combination of generic and disease-specific tools is currently recommended for RA clinical trials.