This study applied a gender perspective to establish some of the anthropometric, body composition, health and socio-cultural determinants of active ageing. The variable ‘active ageing’ (presence/absence) was created based on cognitive and disability/illness/physical functioning, subjective health, satisfaction with life and productive activity performed, and used in predictive models to establish its relationship with anthropometric variables, physical health indicators and educational level. The sample consisted of 456 home-living individuals (169 men and 287 women; age range 54–75 years) from Madrid and Toledo in Spain. The women had a higher prevalence of obesity than the men (37.6% vs 29.0%), significantly greater fat accumulation in the abdominal area and worst perceived health (p=0.003). The frequency of active agers is higher in men than in women (38.4% vs 21.9%; p<0.001). Men and women were found to have distinctive ageing patterns. Health factors condition the presence of active ageing in women, while education factors are also relevant in men.