The aim of this study was to compare the quality of life between diabetic people with chronic foot ulceration or lower limb amputation and diabetic controls. Each participant was interviewed using the Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale, a specifically designed foot questionnaire and a quality of life ladder. Thirteen diabetic unilateral lower limb amputees (DA) were matched for age and sex with 13 unilateral diabetic patients with chronic foot ulceration (DU). Twenty six age- and sex-matched diabetic people with no history of foot ulceration were the controls (DC). Significantly poorer psychosocial adjustments to illness were found in DU and DA compared to diabetic controls (both P < 0.05). DU were also significantly more depressed than the DC (P < 0.05) using the HAD scale. The quality of life ladder revealed that DU were significantly more dissatisfied with their personal lives than DC (P < 0.05). Finally, the foot questionnaire showed that DU had a significantly more negative attitude towards their feet than DC and DA (P < 0.05). This study showed that the psychological status of mobile amputees was better than that of the diabetic foot ulcer patients but not as good as diabetic controls.