Alcohol abuse and a transition to the market economy are often blamed for high mortality and low life expectancy in Russia, but little is known about proximate influences on individual health. This study estimates family influences on the self-reported health of Russian wives and husbands. Predicting gender differences in the determinants of health status, hypotheses are presented for the effects on spouses' self-reported health of five family characteristics: economic status, household division of labor, family decision-making, presence of young children, and housing conditions. Controls are included for age, education, sensitivity, alcohol use, job-related time, and urban-rural location. Data from a 1996 sample of couples (n = 925) from Moscow and two rural regions of Russia are analyzed using logistic regression. The findings provide mixed support for the hypotheses, though they do show the important role of family characteristics on spouses' health. Family economic standing is important to both spouses' self-reported health, though young children in the home is not. Family decision-making does influence spouses' health: when Russian wives are the primary decision makers in the family, their own health suffers, though their husbands' health is better. And support is found for the combined effects of job-related time and household labor but only for wives' health. When wife's household labor is low, the probability of her having poor health increases, the more time she devotes to her job. However, when she does substantially more domestic labor than her husband, her job-related time has the opposite effect, reducing the chances of poor health, the more time she spends on job activities. This study is important both in helping to account for poor health of Russians during the current economic and social transition and in identifying aspects of family life that affect men's and women's health cross-nationally. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.