Recent research indicates that the health status of rural people is inferior to that of people living in metropolitan Australia. This paper summarises the rural-metropolitan health differential and turns to the field of research being called the social determinants of health for explanations of rural health inequalities. The paper explores the ways in which psychosocial factors can interact with material, behavioural and sociocultural factors to contribute to health outcomes. It suggests that the concepts of place and rurality may be useful in future research on the determinants of population health. Further research issues are identified that need to be addressed if we are to understand the complexities of rural health disadvantage.