This study examined the cross-sectional association of bone and joint diseases with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among 850 randomly sampled people aged 60 or more years in a rural area of Bangladesh. Information about arthritis, back and joint pain was collected through self-reports and two physicians' assessments at a health centre. Health-related quality of life was measured using a multi-dimensional generic instrument designed for older people that has questions on the construct's physical, psychological, social, economic, spiritual and environmental dimensions. Bivariate analyses showed that the most negative effects of bone and joint diseases were on the physical and psychological dimensions. Hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed that joint pain, whether doctor-diagnosed or self-reported, and self-reported back pain were all associated with lower HRQoL scores and accounted for almost 20 per cent of the variation (adjusted for age, sex, education, marital status, household size, income, expenditure and occupation). The analyses further revealed that women with self-reported back pain had significantly lower psychological, environmental and overall HRQoL scores than equivalent men, while self-reported joint pain was associated with significantly lower scores only for the environmental dimension. The strong association of bone and joint diseases with HRQoL underscores the importance of regarding these illnesses as public health problems.