The health-promoting hospitals (HPH) movement in Estonia was initiated in 1999. This study aimed to compare the implementation of health-promoting and quality-related activities in HPH and those which have not joined the HPH network (non-HPH). In the beginning of 2005, a postal survey was conducted among the top managers of 54 Estonian hospitals. The questionnaire was based on the WHO standards for HPH and on the set of the national quality assurance (QA) requirements for health services. The study demonstrated some significant differences in the uptake of health promotion and QA activities between HPH and non-HPH. For example, regular patient satisfaction studies were conducted in 83% of HPH and 46% of non-HPH (P < 0.03) and 65% of HPH and 46% of non-HPH cooperated with various patient organizations (P < 0.03). Systems for reporting and analysis of complications were implemented in 71% of HPH and 33% of non-HPH (P < 0.03); also, the implementation of various guidelines was more developed in HPH. All HPH have carried out a risk analysis on the workplace and staff job satisfaction studies were conducted in 89% of HPH and 41% non-HPH (P < 0.05). This study indicates that the concepts of HPH and QA are closely related. Making progress in health promotion is accompanied with QA and vice versa. Implementation of health-promoting activities in hospitals will promote the well-being and health of patients and hospital staff, and creates a supportive environment to provide safe and high-quality health services.