Predictors of satisfaction with ambulatory care and compliance in 267 older and 581 younger patients were determined. Each patient rated a 45-item satisfaction-with-care-scale. Race, SES, marital status, distance from clinic, severity of illness (as measured by physician ratings, self-health assessment, number of medications, number of diagnoses, and number of clinic visits and hospitalizations in the prior year), and physician expectations of improvement were entered as predictors into stepwise multiple regression analyses for the elderly and the young. Predictors of better satisfaction in the young were less severe conditions, being nearer to the clinic and having fewer prior clinic visits over the year. In the elderly, having fewer visits to the clinic, more expectation of improvement by the physician and less severe conditions were associated with better satisfaction. Severity and clinic visits were predictors in each age group. The young, however, were also influenced by distance from the clinic. The elderly were influenced separately by the physician's prognosis. Thus, when the more impaired elderly are seen frequently without expecting a benefit, their satisfaction with care is poor. Further, satisfaction with care was correlated significantly with compliance in the elderly but not in the young. Findings suggest that improving satisfaction with care might also improve rates of compliance with the medical regimen in older patients.