The SF-36 was developed in the USA to provide an eight-scale health profile and two component summary scores representing physical and mental health. The published norms and scoring procedures are based on data from the US general population. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (Women's Health Australia) undertook a survey in 1996 of approximately 42,000 Australian women in three age groups of 18-22, 45-49 and 70-74 years and provided age- and gender-specific norms for the SF-36 health profile. From these data, factor weights and factor score coefficients were calculated for these age- and gender-specific populations of Australian women. Thus, component summary scores for physical and mental health can now be calculated using a formula standardized to the relevant Australian population. This will facilitate the interpretation of the physical and mental health component summary scores in the Australian context and will allow meaningful comparisons within the young, middle-aged and older cohorts of Australian women in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.