The VA Cancer of the Prostate Outcomes Study (VA CaPOS) is collecting quality-of-life (QOL) information from prostate cancer patients, spouses, and physicians at six VA medical centers. Currently, 601 men with prostate cancer are included in the study, most of whom are of low socioeconomic status and over half of whom are African-American. Quality-of-life responses were most favorable for newly diagnosed patients, intermediate for those with stable metastatic disease, and poorest for those with progressive metastatic disease. Patients could not provide reliable estimates of their own preferences for future QOL states but responded reliably to questions phrased as a comparison of the preferences of two hypothetical patients. High out-of-pocket costs for hormonal therapies, lack of health insurance, and a belief that the non-VA system offered poorer services were the most common reasons for patient transferral to the VA system. Satisfaction with medical care was generally high. While African-American patients were more likely to have advanced prostate cancer at diagnosis, after adjustment for differences in health literacy, race was no longer a significant predictor of advanced disease. The VA CaPOS provides useful information on health status and patient satisfaction of VA prostate cancer patients. Long-term evaluations are needed to detect clinically meaningful QOL information as the disease progresses.