Quality of life (QOL) of patients affected by various diseases is now recognized as an important outcome variable. Consenting patients with rheumatoid arthritis (American College of Rheumatology criteria) were included in the study. Quality of life was assessed using the World Health Organization Quality of Life assessment, short form (WHOQOL-BREF). Disease activity was assessed by the Disease Activity Score (DAS28) for 3 variables and functional disability by the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ). Extra-articular manifestations (ExRA) were diagnosed clinically. Seventy-five age-matched normal controls and 136 patients (19 males) were included. The mean duration of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was 9 +/- 5.8 years. The mean DAS28 and HAQ were 4.43 +/- 1.4 and 0.97 +/- 1.6, respectively. At least one ExRA was present in 30 (22.1%) patients. The WHOQOL scores were significantly lower in patients with RA compared to normal controls. Patients and normal controls scored highest in the social relationship domain. There was significant inverse correlation of HAQ with all four domains of WHOQOL. There was significant inverse correlation of DAS28 with the physical health and psychological domains. Patients with ExRA scored significantly lower in the physical health domain of WHOQOL. Multiple regression analysis showed only HAQ to independently affect QOL. Quality of life is compromised in patients with RA. Patients and normal controls scored higher in the social relationship domain. Functional disability is the most important factor affecting QOL in RA.