Growing recognition that quality of life is an important outcome of dental care has created a need for a range of instruments to measure oral health-related quality of life. This study aimed to derive a subset of items from the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-49)-a 49-item questionnaire that measures people's perceptions of the impact of oral conditions on their well-being. Secondary analysis was conducted using data from an epidemiologic study of 1217 people aged 60+ years in South Australia. Internal reliability analysis, factor analysis and regression analysis were undertaken to derive a subset (OHIP-14) questionnaire and its validity was evaluated by assessing associations with sociodemographic and clinical oral status variables. Internal reliability of the OHIP-14 was evaluated using Cronbach's coefficient alpha. Regression analysis yielded an optimal set of 14 questions. The OHIP-14 accounted for 94% of variance in the OHIP-49; had high reliability (alpha = 0.88); contained questions from each of the seven conceptual dimensions of the OHIP-49; and had a good distribution of prevalence for individual questions. OHIP-14 scores and OHIP-49 scores displayed the same pattern of variation among sociodemographic groups of older adults. In a multivariate analysis of dentate people, eight oral status and sociodemographic variables were associated (P < 0.05) with both the OHIP-49 and the OHIP-14. While it will be important to replicate these findings in other populations, the findings suggest that the OHIP-14 has good reliability, validity and precision.