PURPOSE: This qualitative study explored mobility levels around the home and in the community before and after hip fracture. METHODS: Twenty-four people receiving rehabilitation after hip fracture were interviewed using an in-depth semi-structured format: 12 who were receiving rehabilitation as inpatients, and 12 who had been discharged home from inpatient rehabilitation and were continuing therapy as outpatients. The recorded interviews were transcribed and coded independently by two researchers. From these codes themes were developed. RESULTS: Before their fracture, participants were independent about their houses, but their level of community ambulation had been reducing over recent months or years, often associated with another health problem. Participants who had returned home after inpatient rehabilitation for hip fracture reported much reduced levels of mobility both in their house and in the community compared with their pre-fracture performance. This reduced level of mobility was associated with psychological factors (fear, lack of confidence, frustration), physical factors (pain, the presence of another health problem) and social/environmental factors (reliance on daughter, and car). The level of optimism expressed by people receiving inpatient rehabilitation contrasted with the pessimism of those receiving outpatient rehabilitation. CONCLUSIONS: Patients living back in the community after hip fracture described a reduced level of functioning and a pessimism that contrasted with the optimism expressed by people who were still in the inpatient phase of rehabilitation. These findings, and the importance of psychological factors and social support, may be considered when designing rehabilitation strategies to support the successful transition of people to their community after hip fracture.