OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were (i) to examine the psychometric properties of the Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index (MFPDI) in community-dwelling older people, and (ii) to determine the correlates of disabling foot pain in this age-group. METHODS: A questionnaire consisting of medical history, the MFPDI, the Goldberg Anxiety and Depression Scale (GADS) and the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36) was administered to a sample of 301 community-dwelling people (117 men, 184 women) aged between 70 and 95 yr (mean 77.2, s.d. 4.9), who also underwent a clinical assessment of foot problems. RESULTS: Using the MFPDI case definition, 108 people (36%) were found to have disabling foot pain. Within this subgroup, the MFPDI had high internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha=0.89). Principal components analysis revealed a four-factor structure representing the constructs of functional limitation, pain intensity, concern about appearance, and activity restriction, which explained 62% of the variance in the original items. Participants with disabling foot pain were more likely to report pain in the back, hips, knees and hands or wrists, and exhibited flatter feet and less range of motion in the ankle joint. The MFPDI and its subscales were significantly associated with scores on the GADS depression subscale and the general health and mental health components of the SF-36. CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm the high prevalence of disabling foot pain in older people, and suggest that the MFPDI is a suitable tool for assessing foot pain in this population.