OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and to identify factors associated with its use in older patients with arthritis. METHODS: A population-based telephone survey of 480 elderly patients with arthritis was conducted to determine demographics, comorbidities, health status, arthritis symptoms, and the use of CAM and traditional providers and treatments for arthritis. RESULTS: CAM provider use was reported by 28% of respondents, and 66% reported using one or more CAM treatments. Factors independently related to CAM provider use (P < 0.05) included podiatrist or orthotist use, physician visits for arthritis, and fair or poor self-reported health. For CAM treatments, independent associations were found with physical or occupational therapist use, physician visits for arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and alcohol abstinence. Rural residence, age, income, education, and health insurance type were unrelated to CAM use. CONCLUSION: Many older patients with arthritis reported seeing CAM providers, and most used CAM treatments. The use of CAM for arthritis was most common among those with poorer self-assessed health and higher use of traditional health care resources.