Assumptions of the variation in SF-36 scale scores were tested in relation to external criteria in 8930 respondents comprising the Swedish norming population. Physical health scales were strongly associated with age, while small differences were found for the Mental Health scale across age groups. Females reported poorer health than males, particularly in ages between 30-40 and over 70. Worse health profiles were associated with social risk factors (unemployment, divorce, etc.). The disability pension rate was strongly related to reduced Physical Functioning and increased Bodily Pain. The use of medical care was reflected in general health scores (i.e., the lower the scale score, the higher the care consumption). Self-reported physical and psychological symptoms were selectively related to SF-36 scales. All SF-36 scales, except Mental Health, were more strongly related to ratings of health satisfaction than to global quality of life. Combinations of the SF-36 well-being scales explained a substantial part of the variance of these ratings. In conclusion, the performed criterion-validity tests support the cross-cultural stability of the SF-36.