This article aims to examine the relationship between poverty and social exclusion in a dynamic perspective. We look at two dimensions of social exclusion (lack of friendship relationships and lack of participation in civic organisations), and scrutinise two aspects of poverty: poverty duration (that is, ‘previously poor’, ‘recently poor’, ‘recurrent poor’ and ‘permanently poor) and poverty gradation (defined as 50, 60 and 70 per cent of median income). For income, panel data for four waves are used (1997–2000). For the social exclusion indicators, data are available only for one wave, the year 2000. We find that poor people are more likely to see friends regularly than non-poor, but this is primarily caused by some third factor such as work activity or ethnicity, and not by poverty per se. With respect to relationship to civic organisations, the poor are less likely to participate than the non-poor. This occurs regardless of where the poverty line is drawn and the duration of poverty. These results are discussed in light of current anti-poverty policies and recent theories and research on social exclusion and social capital.