Purpose: To compare functional status and quality of life (QoL) of patients with early and late stages of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to investigate the effects of some clinical symptoms on functional status and QoL. Material and methods: The subjects consisted of 78 Norwegian patients with early (0-3 years) and late (>3 and <20 years) stages of RA from outpatient clinics of Thermal Spa Center. Clinical symptoms (pain, stiffness, fatigue, etc.), functional status (Health Assessment Questionnaire, HAQ) and QoL (SF-36) were assessed. Results: In early stage RA, HAQ and physical components summary score of the QoL (SF-PCS) were significantly higher than scores of late stage RA patients (p<0.05). Mental component summary scores (SF-MCS) were similar in both stages (p>0.05). There was no correlation between clinical symptoms and HQA and QoL scores in early stage RA (p>0.05). However, SF-PCS strongly correlated with pain, morning stiffness and fatigue in late stage RA (p<0.05). Conclusion: The results of study showed that clinical symptoms affect physical dimensions of QoL and functional status in the late stage. Pain, morning stiffness and fatigue are important factors for QoL. Mental dimensions of QoL were not influenced from clinical symptoms in both stages. Mental dimension of QoL cannot be influenced by clinical symptoms in both stage in patients with RA.