Self-rated health has been used extensively in epidemiologic studies, not only due to its importance per se but also due to the validity established by its association with clinical conditions and with greater risk of subsequent morbidity and mortality. In this study, the socio-demographic determinants of good self-rated health are analyzed using data from the World Health Survey, adapted and carried out in Brazil in 2003. Logistic regression models were used, with age and sex as covariables, and educational level, a household assets index, and work-related indicators as measures of socioeconomic status. Besides the effects of sex and age, with consistently worst health perception among females and among the eldest, the results showed pronounced socioeconomic inequalities. After adjusting for age, among females the factors that contributed most to deterioration of health perception were incomplete education and material hardship; among males, besides material hardship, work related indicators (manual work, unemployment, work retirement or incapable to work) were also important determining factors. Among individuals with long-term illness or disability, the socioeconomic gradient persisted, although of smaller magnitude.