Background: This study aimed to identify the relationships of self-management abilities and frailty to perceived poor health among community-dwelling older people in the Netherlands while controlling for important individual characteristics such as education, age, marital status, and gender. Methods. The cross-sectional study sample consisted of 869/2212 (39% response rate) independently living older adults (aged ≥70 years) in 92 neighborhoods of Rotterdam. In the questionnaires we assessed self-rated health, frailty using the Tilburg Frailty Indicator (TFI) and self-management abilities with the short version of the Self-Management Ability Scale (SMAS-S). We first used descriptive analysis to identify those in poor and good health. Differences between groups were established using chi-squared and t-tests. Relationships between individual characteristics, frailty, self-management abilities and poor health were investigated with correlation analyses. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were than performed to investigate the relationships of self-management abilities and frailty to health while controlling for age, gender, education, and marital status. The results of the multilevel regression analyses are reported as odd ratios. Results: Respondents in poor health were older than those in good health (78.8 vs. 77.2; p ≤.001). A significantly larger proportion of older people in poor health were poorly educated (38.4% vs. 19.0%; p ≤.001) and fewer were married (33.6% vs. 46.3%; p ≤.001). Furthermore, older people in poor health reported significantly lower self-management abilities (3.5 vs. 4.1; p ≤.001) and higher levels of frailty (6.9 vs. 3.3; p ≤.001). Correlation analyses showed significant relationships between frailty, self-management abilities and poor health. Multilevel analyses showed that, after controlling for background characteristics, self-management abilities were negatively associated with poor health (p ≤.05) and a positive relationship was found between frailty and poor health (p ≤.05) among older people in the community. Conclusions: Self-management abilities and frailty are important for healthy aging among community-dwelling older people in the Netherlands. Particularly vulnerable are the lower educated older adults. Interventions to improve self-management abilities may help older people age healthfully and prevent losses as they age further. © 2014 Cramm et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.