We studied the correlation between quality of life and exercise testing in 554 patients 2 years after coronary artery bypass surgery. Quality of life constitutes a person's perceptions of physical and mental functional capacity, health and symptoms. Traditionally, evaluations after coronary bypass surgery have focused on physical performance, medication and anginal symptoms, which cannot be said to represent quality of life. We used the Physical Activity Score, the Nottingham Health Profile and the Psychological General Well-being Index for evaluation of quality of life. Significant correlations were found between quality of life and exercise capacity (P < 0.0001), and quality of life and chest pain at exercise for all questionnaires (P < 0.0001). Significant correlations, although of small or moderate magnitude, were found between exercise capacity, chest pain and most subscales of quality of life, with the highest correlation coefficients for dimensions reflecting physical abilities and pain. We conclude that quality of life correlates significantly with exercise capacity and chest pain during exercise 2 years after coronary bypass surgery. However, only dimensions of pain and physical performance are reasonably well correlated with exercise test results. Several aspects of quality of life are only weakly related to exercise test results and may escape identification in an exercise test.