The status of quality of life research in oncology is assessed, and priorities for future research with regard to conceptual and theoretical developments, focus and content of research, research designs and practical strategies for research implementation, and transferring information to clinical practice and medical policy decision-making are identified. There is general agreement that quality of life is a subjective and multidimensional construct, yet comprehensive theoretical models have not been developed and applied fully. We recommend that future research be based on conceptual models that explicate the interrelationships among quality of life domains throughout the stages of cancer care. These models, and the longitudinal research that follows from them, should attend specifically to cross-class and cross-cultural issues to avoid overgeneralization from theory and research that are based largely on the views of the majority culture. We encourage the inclusion of this theory-based quality of life assessment as a standard component of clinical trials. Success in this endeavor will require additional standardization of quality of life measures for use across a range of cancer patient populations, including the development of age-specific norms and instruments designed to assess the entire family system.