The aims of this study were to compare the perceived health of young adults with spina bifida with a population without disability, and to determine the effect of the disease characteristics and resulting impairments on perceived health. This cross-sectional study is part of the Adolescents with Spina Bifida in the Netherlands study. Data were collected by physical examination and a questionnaire. In total, 179 patients (age range 16-25y) participated in the study and perceived health data were completed for 164 participants (92 females, 72 males; mean age 20y 7mo [SD 2y 9mo]). Twenty-six participants had spina bifida occulta and 138 had spina bifida aperta, of whom 115 also had hydrocephalus. Perceived health was measured with the Medical Outcome Study 36-item Short-form Health Survey (SF-36), a generic health status measure. SF-36 scores of young adults with spina bifida were below those of an age-matched population group for six of the eight domains. This difference was largest for the physical functioning domain. Although these differences were statistically significant they were small. Findings for the emotional health domains (vitality, mental health, role problems due to emotional problems) did not differ at all from the population group.