Background The purpose was, first, to evaluate changes in health-related quality of life (HRQL) in a cohort of very low birth weight (VLBW; <1500 g.) or very preterm (< 32 weeks of gestation) children between ages 14 and 19, and second, to identify correlates of HRQL at age 19. Methods HRQL was assessed using the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI3). In order to explore correlates of HRQL, we performed a hierarchical regression analysis. Results Surviving VLBW children (n = 959) from a 1983 Dutch nation-wide cohort were eligible; 630 participated both at age 14 and 19; 54 at age 19 only. The mean HRQL score decreased from 0.87 to 0.86. The HRQL of 45% was stable, 25% were better and 30% were worse. A regression model showed internalizing problems were related most strongly to HRQL. Conclusions In the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, HRQL in Dutch VLBW children was stable at the group level but varied at the individual level. HRQL was negatively associated with internalizing problems and also with physical handicaps. Long-term follow-up studies on the impact of VLBW on HRQL are all the more called for, given the growing number of vulnerable infants surviving the neonatal period.