The impact of hip and knee arthroplasty based on the patients' own evaluations of their health, quality of life, and physical ability was assessed using a cross-sectional study design. The eligibility criteria were a diagnosis of primary arthrosis, primary operation, and total joint arthroplasty. Preoperative hip and knee patient groups were compared with similar groups who underwent arthroplasty 2 or 5 years previously. Subjective health outcome was assessed with the Nottingham health profile and a 15-dimensional, health-related quality of life measure. Patients' physical ability was assessed using a measure of activities of daily living. Major improvements were observed for pain, sleep, range of motion, and physical ability. However, after surgery, patients were less healthy than the general population of the same age. The health status of patients operated on 2 or 5 years ago was similar, suggesting that health gains persist for several years.