Objectives of this study are (1) to compare health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of patients after lumbar disc surgery with reference data from the German general population; (2) to examine whether changes in HRQOL occur over time; (3) to investigate associations between HRQOL and socio-demographic and health-related factors. The study sample consisted at baseline of 189 patients who underwent lumbar disc surgery. Baseline assessment was carried out 1-4 days after surgery, the first follow-up 2 months, the second follow-up 6 months after surgery. HRQOL was assessed by means of the WHOQOL-BREF. During follow-up, patients showed significant improvement in "physical well being" and "overall quality of life." However, it did not reach the level of the general population at any assessment point. There was also a slight improvement of "psychological well being." The domains "social relationships" and "environment" remained unchanged and showed persistently higher scores than the general population. Cohabitating was positively associated with QoL. Negatively associated were unemployment, part-time employment, desire for early retirement, higher intensity of pain and depression. Supplementing physical rehabilitation by psychosocial interventions may help improve patients' HRQOL.