Objectives were to obtain a view on the current use of outcome measures for stroke and low back pain rehabilitation in five European countries. A postal questionnaire, comparable for different cultural situations, was distributed in August 1998 to 581 rehabilitation facilities in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands. Of these, 102 settings responded. In stroke rehabilitation the Barthel Index is the dominant outcome measure, followed by the Functional Independence Measure and the Frenchay Activities Index. Besides the Visual Analogue Scale, the most used outcome measures in low back pain rehabilitation were the Oswestry Pain Disability Questionnaire and the Roland Disability Questionnaire. Outcome measures are more frequently used in stroke than in low back pain rehabilitation. The purpose of use is mainly for the measurement of effectiveness, while a relation with quality management is seldom made. There appears to be little agreement on which outcome measures to use. Little attention was found to have been given to the assessment of handicap, quality of life and patient satisfaction.