We report a prospective study of 232 consecutive patients with hip fractures. All were over 64 years of age and living independently before admission to a geriatric orthopaedic ward. We assessed the value, at admission, of predicting factors for independent living at one year after injury. The most important factors were: (1) preinjury function in activities of daily living (grade A or B on the Katz et al (1963) scale); (2) absence of other medical conditions which would impair rehabilitation; and (3) cognitive function better than 7 on the Pfeiffer (1975) mental questionnaire. The odds ratios (95% CI) for these three predictors were 3.5 (1.3 to 9.1), 2.9 (1.3 to 6.1) and 2.4 (1.9 to 4.9), respectively. When all predictors were positive at admission, 92% were living independently at one year; with one, two or three negative predictors, the percentages living independently were 76, 61 and 27, respectively. The median values of the total number of days in hospital, irrespective of diagnosis, during the first year were 12, 24, 29 and 149 days for the four groups. The mortality at one year was predictable on admission only by the number of medical conditions: with no other diagnosis than the fracture the mortality was 0%; with one or two additional conditions the mortality was 14%; and with three or more additional diagnoses it was 24%. These simple and robust predictors can be used to optimise resources for rehabilitation.