Background: In the course of the European Vertebral Osteoprosis Study (EVOS) 4060 men and women (target age 50 to 79 years; age and sex-stratified random samples from official population registers) were examined according to the standardized study protocol in 8 German study centres. Methods: The study programme comprised an initial postal health questionnaire, a medical interview concerning risk factors and health impact and lateral X-rays of the thoracic and the lumbar spine. Vertebral deformities were defined morphometrically. The association between prevalent deformities and subjective health impairments, was investigated using 2 different morphometric classifications. The following variables were included as indicators of reduced health: back pain ever/within the last 12 months/currently, back pain intensity, functional capacity (ADL-list), graded back pain, subjective health, depression and grip strength. Results: Bivariate analyses (χ2 test, t-Test) as well as logistic regression analysis revealed significant associations between vertebral deformities and several negative health outcomes (odds ratios between 0.75 and 4.65, depending on definition of deformity). The associations were stronger in women.