This paper reports a multi-stage study carried out between 1999 and 2001 which aimed to develop an instrument to address the need for a culturally relevant measure of quality of life for Chinese older persons in Hong Kong and similar communities. The first stage of the research involved a focus group study conducted in August 1999 which it was hoped would reflect how 'quality of life' may be interpreted by older persons themselves. The next stage, a content analysis of the focus groups, enabled the construction of a questionnaire containing over 100 items on various aspects of quality of life (QoL). The questionnaire was reviewed by a panel of experts and the items were refined and reduced to 86 to which were added a further 25 items for socio-demographic background. This formed the initial instrument. The final stage was a validation study based on a representative community survey, with a sample of 3,000 respondents drawn for the research team by the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government. The survey yielded 1,616 successful interviews with older persons aged 60 or above. The careful stratification of the sample enabled us to say that subjects in all the stages of the survey had broadly similar characteristics to the general Hong Kong elderly population in sex and age distribution. After a rigorous process of validation, the research team recommended the adoption of both an index and six domains for measuring Hong Kong older persons' QoL. The new scale contains a total of 21 items which can be grouped into various domains: subjective well-being, with 4 items; health with 5 items; interpersonal relationships with 6 items; achievement - recognition with 4 items, finance and living conditions (1 item each). The overall QoL scale has a Cronbach's alpha of 0.72 with its domains ranging from 0.65 to 0.77 which indicates a high degree of statistical reliabilities. The name recommended for the scale was 'Hong Kong Quality of Life for Older Persons Scale' - abbreviated as 'HKQoLOCP'.