Quality of life (QOL) was determined using the shortened version of the Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life (SEIQoL-Dw), in 180 patients, shortly after a diagnosis of malignant cord compression. The median SEIQoL score was 66 (maximum 100). Twenty-five per cent of patients had a score >83. SEIQoL correlated with KPS (P<0.004) but the range of scores for each level of performance was very wide. Although there was an association between SEIQoL and ability to walk, the difference was small and not significant. SEIQoL was adversely affected by emotional distress as measured using HAD (P<0.01), although few patients were identified as being severely depressed. The findings are a reminder that QOL as determined by the patient may not coincide with health professionals' opinions.