We have developed a 12-item questionnaire for patients having a total knee replacement (TKR). We made a prospective study of 117 patients before operation and at follow-up six months later, asking them to complete the new questionnaire and the form SF36. Some also filled in the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ). An orthopaedic surgeon completed the American Knee Society (AKS) clinical score. The single score derived from the new questionnaire had high internal consistency, and its reproducibility, examined by test-retest reliability, was found to be satisfactory. Its validity was established by obtaining significant correlations in the expected direction with the AKS scores and the relevant parts of the SF36 and HAQ. Sensitivity to change was assessed by analysing the differences between the preoperative scores and those at follow-up. We also compared change in scores with the patients' retrospective judgement of change in their condition. The effect size for the new questionnaire compared favourably with those for the relevant parts of the SF36. The change scores for the new knee questionnaire were significantly greater (p < 0.0001) for patients who reported the most improvement in their condition. The new questionnaire provides a measure of outcome for TKR that is short, practical, reliable, valid and sensitive to clinically important changes over time.