A prospective pre- and postoperative general health/quality-of-life factor comparison, using the Rand SF-36 Health Status Questionnaire (TyPE Specification, Quality Quest [Health Outcomes Institute, Minneapolis, MN]), was carried out on a consecutive series of patients with diagnosed osteoarthritis undergoing total hip and knee arthroplasty between March 1991 and March 1994. Study groups consisted of 85 total hip arthroplasty patients, 93 total knee arthroplasty patients, and 65 single-stage bilateral total knee arthroplasty patients, all treated at the same specialty hospital, under the care of three senior orthopaedic surgeons. The average patient age was 69 years. Significant improvements in quality-of-life measures including physical functioning, social functioning, role functioning/physical problem, role functioning/emotional problem, mental health, energy/fatigue, pain, and change in health were noted in all hip and knee arthroplasty patients 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years after surgery (P < .05). There appeared to be no significant differences in quality-of-life measures between hip and knee arthroplasty patients. Results therefore indicate that total hip and knee arthroplasty significantly improve the functional status and quality of life among patients suffering from osteoarthritis.