The diagnostic performance of the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly--Screening Version (HHIE-S) was evaluated against five definitions of hearing loss in 178 elderly subjects screened in primary care. Hearing loss was assessed by pure-tone audiometry. Using a score of greater than 8 as a cut point, the HHIE-S had sensitivities ranging from 53 to 72% and specificities ranging from 70 to 84% with the different definitions. The HHIE-S receiver-operating characteristics and likelihood ratios were similar regardless of hearing loss definition used. The HHIE-S is a valid, robust test for identifying hearing-impaired elderly, irrespective of the audiometric definition used to finally diagnose hearing difficulties.