Investigators used Orem's self-care deficit theory to guide their examination of the needs of clients with rheumatoid arthritis. Several research questions, which were guided by the proposition that universal self-care requisites are influenced by a person's age, gender, and health state, were addressed. Interviews with 59 clients with rheumatoid arthritis were tape recorded, and transcripts of the interviews were analyzed by two experts using assigned codes of universal self-care requisites (USCRs). The most frequently reported USCRs for these clients with rheumatoid arthritis were the maintenance of a balance between activity and rest (83%), the promotion of normalcy (66%), and prevention of hazards (58%). Clients' health state and age, but not their gender, affected USCRs. The clinical and theoretical implications of the findings are described in light of clients' rehabilitation.