Objectives: The purpose of this review is to summarize the available evidence on the impact of non-traumatic hip or knee disorders on health-related quality of life (HRQL), as measured with the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) or Short Form 12 Health Survey (SF-12), by comparing this with data from reference populations. Methods: Studies were identified by an electronic search of the MEDLINE, PsychInfo and Cinahl databases. Studies with the following features were included: study population included patients with non-traumatic hip or knee disorders, the SF-36 or SF-12 was used as an outcome measure and mean scores on these HRQL measures were presented. Using mean HRQL scores from the selected studies and scores from reference populations, z-scores were computed. Pooled estimates were computed for subgroups of studies with similar patients in similar settings. Results: A total of 40 studies met the inclusion criteria. Patients with non-traumatic hip and knee disorders scored up to 2.5 standard deviations (SDs) below reference population values, especially on the physical aspects of HRQL. Social and mental aspects were up to 1 SD below reference population values, especially in patients in clinical settings. Conclusions: The impact of non-traumatic hip or knee disorders on HRQL is substantial, especially on the physical aspects of HRQL.