The purpose of this study was to review quality-of-life instruments for their potential usefulness in the palliative care setting. Conceptualizations of quality of life throughout history, and contemporary conceptualizations of quality of life were briefly discussed. The specific conceptualizations of six quality-of-life measurement tools (the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey [SF-36], the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer [EORTC] QLQ-C30, the Quality of Life Index [QLI], the Hospice Quality of Life Index [HQLI], the McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire [MQOL], and the Missoula-VITAS Quality of Life Index [MVQOLI]) were evaluated. The origins, target populations, acceptability of individual items, completion time, number of questions, type of response format, and type of scoring of each instrument were discussed, and evidence of the instruments' reliability, validity, and responsiveness were reviewed. The researcher or clinician should consider all of these factors when choosing the quality-of-life instrument that best fits the purpose.