Background Data on the relationship between core symptoms and daily functioning in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are limited. Daily functioning was assessed as part of an open-label extension, and associations with symptom scores were evaluated.Method After a 5-week double-blind study with adults with ADHD receiving osmotic-controlled release oral delivery system (OROS) methylphenidate (MPH) 18, 36 or 72 mg/day, or placebo, participants were eligible for a 7-week open-label extension in which all patients received OROS MPH. Data for the Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scale - Observer: Screening Version (CAARS-O:SV) (primary endpoint) have been presented previously. Secondary endpoints included the observer self-reported short version of the CAARS (CAARS-S:S) and the Clinical Global Impressions - Severity Scale (CGI-S). Daily functioning and quality of life were assessed using the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS) and the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (Q-LES-Q) respectively. In post-hoc analyses, changes in CAARS-O:SV were evaluated in subgroups. Relationships between symptom and functional outcomes were evaluated in a multivariate regression analysis.Results A total of 370 patients entered the open-label extension. Significant improvements from baseline in CAARS-O:SV were similar regardless of sex, ADHD subtype, prior treatment or psychiatric co-morbidity. Significant improvements from double-blind baseline were also seen for the CAARS-S:S, CGI-S, SDS and Q-LES-Q. Improvements in the CAARS-O:SV Hyperactivity/Impulsivity subscale were associated with improvements in SDS total and subscale scores, and in the Q-LES-Q score at open-label endpoint. Improvements in CAARS-O:SV Inattention subscale and CGI-S scores were not significantly associated with functional changes.Conclusions Improvements in ADHD symptoms relating to hyperactivity and impulsivity in adults receiving OROS MPH are associated with improvements in daily functioning and quality of life.