An increasing proportion of critically ill patients are elderly (ie, ≥ 65 years of age). This poses complex challenges and choices for the management of elderly patients. Outcome following admission to the ICU has been traditionally concerned with mortality. Beyond mortality, outcomes such as functional status and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) have assumed greater importance. This article reviews the literature, published in English from 1990 to December 2003, pertaining to HRQOL and functional status outcomes of elderly patients. Functional status and HRQOL of elderly survivors of ICUs has been underinvestigated. There is no agreement as to the optimal instrument choice, and differences between studies preclude meaningful comparison or pooling of results.