Background: The age-related deterioration of physiological capacities such as muscle strength and balance is associated with increased dependence. Understanding the contribution of physical fitness components to functional performance facilitates the development of adequate exercise interventions aiming at preservation of function and independence of older people. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between physical fitness components and functional performance in older people living in long-term care facilities. Methods: Design cross-sectional study Subjects 226 persons living in long-term care facilities (mean age: 81.6 ± 5.6). Outcome measures Physical fitness and functional performance were measured by performancebased tests. Results: Knee and elbow extension strength were significantly higher in men (difference = 44.5 and 50.0 N, respectively), whereas women were more flexible (difference sit & reach test = 7.2 cm). Functional performance was not significantly different between the genders. In men, motor coordination (eye-hand coordination) and measures of strength were the main contributors to functional performance, whereas in women flexibility (sit and reach test) and motor coordination (tandem stance and eye-hand coordination) played a major role. Conclusion: The results of this study show that besides muscle strength, fitness components such as coordination and flexibility are associated with functional performance of older people living in long-term care facilities. This suggests that men and women living in long-term care facilities, differ considerably concerning the fitness factors contributing to functional performance. Women and men may, therefore, need exercise programs emphasizing different fitness aspects in order to improve functional performance.