This study intended to: 1. Identify the leisure activities available in the hospital and those in which the elderly participate; 2. Relate elderly hospitalization with their participation in leisure activities; 3. Assess the factors that motivate and inhibit elderly participation in leisure activities. This is a descriptive/exploratory study carried out with one hundred hospitalized elderly patients. Available leisure activities were television and magazines. Most participants (99%) said they participate in leisure activities such as family/ friends conversations and visits. Involvement in leisure activities decreases with associated diseases and increases with hospitalization time. Leisure was motivated by the elderly's personal characteristics, the reduction of the hospitalization's negative effects, and the benefits it brings to the health. Its limitation was associated to intrinsic aspects of the elderly and to the institutional context.