The relationship between age and functional health status is examined in two cross-sectional studies: (1) a random household sample of 2008 adults and (2) a sample of 1227 ambulatory patients in northern New England. Results reveal diminished and more variable physical functioning, role functioning, and perceived health in older age groups, particularly those groups aged 50 and older. Emotional functioning, however, tended to be better in older age groups. The association between physical and emotional functioning was strongest in older age groups. However, decrements in functional health status occurred selectively among older individuals with many of the elderly scoring as well as the average young adult on the measures of physical, role and emotional functioning.