This is the initial report of the generic health OMERACT study concerned with the sensitivity to change of generic quality of life (QOL) measures. Our objective was to determine which QOL instrument is best able to show a statistically significant improvement in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) demonstrating relevant improvement in a core set of disease activity and disease-specific disability measures. A multicenter controlled trial of a single group with repeated measurements at 0 (baseline), 3, and 6 months was conducted. All participating centers recruited 10 patients with RA who were about to start methotrexate therapy for the first time because of active disease. Assessments included disease activity measures, disease-specific disability measures, and generic QOL measures. To date, 40 patients have been recruited from 4 centers for the study. After 6 months of treatment many of the generic QOL measures showed a 20% improvement from baseline and medium standardized response means around 0.5. In particular, the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) and the Rheumatoid Arthritis Quality of Life (RAQOL) measures had the largest percentage improvement (22 and 29%, respectively) and standardized response means (both with 0.54). Early results on the sensitivity of generic health QOL measures are promising, in particular for the NHP and RAQOL measures.