Objective. This study compares quality of life among couples who had adopted a child 4–5.5 years previously with couples whose conception was spontaneous, as well as with couples who had successful or unsuccessful in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Design. Cross-sectional study. Setting. Tertiary level university hospital. Sample. From the following groups, 979 responses were obtained: adoption; successful IVF; unsuccessful IVF–living with children; unsuccessful IVF–living without children; and childbirth after spontaneous conception (controls). Methods. Quality of life was studied with the Psychological General Well Being (PGWB) and Sense of Coherence (SOC) instruments. Demographic, socio-economic and health data were obtained with additional questionnaires. Multiple variance analysis was applied. Main outcome measures. The PGWB and SOC scores. Results. After adjustment for seven confounders, the adoption group had higher PGWB scores than the unsuccessful IVF–living without children and the controls and higher SOC scores than all other groups. The unsuccessful IVF–living without children had lower PGWB and SOC scores than all other groups. The PGWB and SOC scores among controls did not differ from those with successful IVF or unsuccessful IVF–living with children. Conclusions. Adjusted PGWB and SOC scores revealed a high quality of life in the adoption group. However, the group unsuccessful IVF–living without children had low quality of life scores. Quality of life appears to be independent of the outcome of IVF treatment as long as there are children in the family.