Ageing is going to be a major problem in Bangladesh given its population size, scarce resources, existing poverty, insufficient health facilities and lack of a social security system. This paper examines how many years older people expect to be in good health, and what are the correlates of self-rated health (SRH). The data used in this study come from 896 older people aged 60 years and above from Rajshahi district in Bangladesh and from United Nations’ projected population figures. Results show that individuals at age 60 expected about 41 per cent of their remaining life to be in good health, while individuals at age 80 expected only 21 per cent of their remaining life to be in good health. Having exercised during the six months prior to the survey was the single most important correlate of SRH (odds ratio=5.49; confidence interval 4.03–7.47; without any adjustment). While rural–urban differentials and some health decline in old age are inevitable, four factors (exercise behaviour, sufficiency of income, physical limitations and facing abusive behaviour) are to a certain extent modifiable and therefore provide the potential for improving SRH and healthy life expectancy in Rajshahi district, Bangladesh.