PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of residential blind rehabilitation on patients' vision-targeted health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and general physical and mental function. METHOD: The National Eye Institute 25-item Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI VFQ) plus appendix questions, the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12), Hope Scale and Coopersmith self-esteem inventory were administered to 206 legally blind veterans prior to their entering a residential (in-patient) blind rehabilitation program and again to 185 and 176 of the original cohort at 2 and 6 months after completion of the rehabilitation program, respectively. Data on visual acuity, visual field extent, contrast sensitivity and scanning ability were also collected. The duration of the in-patient rehabilitation programs ranged from 11 to 109 days. Questionnaire scores were compared pre-rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation. RESULTS: Following rehabilitation there was a significant improvement in nine of 11 NEI VFQ subscales and in a composite score at both the 2- and 6-month post-rehabilitation intervals. Mental health (SF-12) and self esteem also improved significantly although physical health ratings declined over the course of the study (approximately 10 months). CONCLUSIONS: Residential blind rehabilitation appears to improve patients' self-reported vision-targeted HRQOL, self-esteem and mental health aspects of generic HRQOL.