Objective. To investigate the use of pain coping strategies by community-living older people with pain in the hip or knee and the mediating role of coping with pain in the relationship between the chronicity of pain and physical disability. Methods. A group of 157 people with pain 'in the last month' was identified. Coping with pain was assessed with the Pain Coping Inventory, physical disability with the Sickness Impact Profile, and household and sport activities with a validated structured interview method. Results. People with chronic pain used relatively more 'resting,' and 'reducing demands' as pain coping strategies. Pain chronicity made a significant contribution to physical disability; however, when corrected for other variables in a regression model, no significant partial correlation was found. Conclusion. We conclude that pain coping has a mediating role in the relationship between pain chronicity and physical disability. Less use of 'resting' and a physically active lifestyle are independently associated with less physical disability.