The Gulf War's impact on veterans' health-related quality of life (HRQL) remains unclear. The authors examined the HRQL War Theater compared with those not deployed. In 1995-1996, a structured, population-based telephone survey was conducted 5 years postconflict among a cohort originally from Iowa on active duty during the conflict. The sample included 4,886 eligible subjects stratified by deployment and military status and proportionately distributed within five substrata. The Medical Outcome Study Short Form-36 (SF-36) assessed HRQL, and multivariable linear regression identified pre- and perideployment risk factors. A total of 3,695 respondents (76%) participated. Nondeployed participants reported excellent health more often than deployed participants (31% vs. 21%, p < 0.01). SF-36 scores for deployed participants were poorer than those for nondeployed controls across all health domains. Modifiable factors such as smoking and military preparedness, and other factors such as predeployment physical and mental health morbidity, were independent risk factors for poorer HRQL after deployment. Deployed veterans reported slightly poorer HRQL even after the authors adjusted for other risk factors. Further investigation of factors influencing postdeployment HRQL is needed. Routine collection of health information by using standardized instruments pre- and perideployment should be implemented.