Few population-based data exist to assess the impact of tinnitus on quality of life. As part of the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study, self-reported data on tinnitus and quality of life were obtained by interview at the first follow-up examination (1998-2000; N = 2800; ages 53-97 years). The Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) was used to assess quality of life. Adjusted mean SF-36 scores decreased (worsened) with increasing tinnitus severity (None, Mild, Moderate, Severe) for the Role-Physical, Bodily Pain, Vitality, and Mental Health domains, and the Physical Component Summary scale (F-tests for linear trend, p < .05). Scores tended to be lower for those who first reported tinnitus at the follow-up (five-year incidence of tinnitus) compared to those who reported tinnitus at the baseline and follow-up examinations (prevalent tinnitus). This study documents clear associations between tinnitus and reduced quality of life in this large cohort of older adults.