Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with substantial pain, fatigue, disability, depression, and an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. The negative effects of RA on both physical and psychological health can be quantitatively assessed through the use of validated health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) assessment tools. HRQOL correlates with disease activity and predicts mortality risk in patients with RA. HRQOL assessments are essential for gauging the effects of RA on an individual’s daily life, the effectiveness of the current treatment, and whether any changes in therapy are needed. Effective RA treatment has been shown to improve HRQOL at all stages of disease: in early RA, after failure of methotrexate, and after failure of a tumor-necrosis-factor (TNF) inhibitor. Long-term clinical trials have shown that current treatment paradigms can maintain HRQOL and prevent disability; thus, it is critical that patients with RA obtain proper care by a rheumatologist early in the disease course.