Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of three different training protocols on physical function of older adults living in long-term care facilities. Emphasis was placed on feasibility in real-life situations. Methods: Subjects (N = 224) were randomised to 6 months of twice weekly (1) resistance training; (2) all-round functional-skills training; (3) a combination of both; or (4) a control program. Fitness and performance measures and self-reported disability were measured at baseline and after 24 weeks intervention. Results: Attendance to the strength training was 76%, to the functional-skills training 70% and to the combined training 73%. In those who attended at least 75% of all classes (n = 97) the functional-skills and combined training program improved several fitness and performance measures compared to the control group. Conclusion: Twice weekly functional-skills training, or a combination of resistance and functional-skills training can improve several fitness and performance measures of institutionalised older people. Practice implications: An important finding from our study was that less than twice a week exercise training is not enough for functional improvement, while it proved difficult for the elderly subjects to exercise twice weekly. Education on the health benefits of regular exercise, and a larger availability of classes in long-term care facilities may improve attendance. © 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.