Background: Information about quality of life of patients with chronic hip or knee complaints in general practice is scarce. This study describes the health-related and overall quality of life (HRQL) of these complaints. Methods: Data were obtained from a cohort study in general practice. HRQL at three months follow-up was analysed. HRQL was measured as: symptoms, physical, psychological and social functioning, and general health perceptions, using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis index (WOMAC) and the MOS 36-item short-form-health survey (SF-36). Overall quality of life was measured using a 5-point rating scale. Results: The results show that patients with chronic hip or knee complaints have a substantial lower HRQL compared to patients who had recovered from baseline hip or knee complaints. The largest effect was found on symptoms and physical functioning: up to 2.9 standard deviations below patients who had recovered from baseline hip or knee complaints. Scores of patients with both chronic hip and knee complaints were significantly worse than scores of patients with only knee complaints on most subscales. Conclusion: In patients with chronic hip or knee complaints the worst scores were seen on scales that measure symptoms and physical functioning, but still a substantially lower score was obtained for overall quality of life. Quality of life was poorer for patients with both chronic hip and knee complaints compared to those with chronic hip or knee complaints only.