Similar to other industrialized countries, Germany's population is ageing. Whereas some people enjoy good physical and cognitive health into old age, others suffer from a multitude of age-related disorders and impairments which reduce life expectancy and affect quality of life. To identify and characterize the factors associated with 'healthy' vs. 'unhealthy' ageing, we have launched the Berlin Aging Study II (BASE-II), a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project that ascertains a large number of ageing-related variables from a wide range of different functional domains. Phenotypic assessments include factors related to geriatrics and internal medicine, immunology, genetics, psychology, sociology and economics. Baseline recruitment of the BASE-II cohort was recently completed and has led to the sampling of 1600 older adults (age range 60-80 years), as well as 600 younger adults (20-35 years) serving as the basic population for in-depth analyses. BASE-II data are linked to the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), a long-running panel survey representative of the German population, to estimate sample selectivity. A major goal of BASE-II is to facilitate collaboration with other research groups by freely sharing relevant phenotypic and genotypic data with qualified outside investigators.