Parkinson's disease (PD) has no cure and is a progressive neurological disorder with treatment aimed at the maintenance of function and limitation of the symptoms. No extensive studies of the disease's impact on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) have been conducted. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential usefulness of the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (SF-36) and the Functional Status Questionnaire (FSQ) in Parkinson's disease research. This cross-sectional study of 193 PD patients who visited two hospital-based neurology clinics used self-administered in-clinic and take-home questionnaires to ascertain the demographic and environmental characteristics of the subjects and to gain health profile measures from the SF-36 and the FSQ. The two health profiles provide important HRQoL information supplementary to the traditional signs and symptoms evaluated by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). Many of the HRQoL measures discriminate progressive stages of disease in this study group and distinguish those with complications of therapy from subjects without complications.