We have studied the association of muscle strength (quadriceps, biceps, handgrip), measured by a portable chair technique, with functional status (Barthel Index, manual dexterity, Mental Test Score, history of falls, fracture, prescribed drugs), in a sample of 92 elderly subjects attending a Local Authority Day Centre and Day Hospital. Anthropometric measurements and hand-grip strength were also measured in 30 young controls. Muscle area, mass and strength were significantly greater in young controls. Elderly men had significantly greater muscle area, mass and strength than elderly women. Muscle strength correlated with several measures of functional status. Using stepwise multiple regression, an independent association of muscle strength with manual dexterity, Barthel Index and receipt of domiciliary services is demonstrated.