Background For a significant proportion of the older population, increasing age is associated with health problems and worsening health. Older family caregivers are largely responsible for care of next-of-kin living at home, which impacts their own physical and mental health both positively and negatively. However, evidence is insufficient regarding the health situation of older caregivers. The aim of this study was to investigate health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and pain, and their associations, among caregivers aged >= 60 years. Methods The participants (n = 3444) were recruited from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care-Blekinge and Good Aging in Skane during 2001-2004. Participants aged >= 60 years were selected randomly and underwent cognitive tests, with demographic information obtained through questionnaires. The response rate was 60%. A predefined research protocol was used. HRQoL was measured with the Short-Form Health Survey, dimension mental health. Logistic regression models were used to investigate the associations between HRQoL and pain as well as control factors. Results Family caregiving was reported by 395 (11.5%) of the participants, and 56.7% of the caregivers reported pain. Family caregivers reported lower pain intensity on the Visual Analogue Scale and were younger, on median, than non-caregivers. Irrespective of caregiver status, pain was associated with mental HRQoL. Concerns about personal health and financial status had the strongest associations with mental HRQOL in both groups, but the levels were higher among caregivers. Conclusion Pain was one factor associated with low HRQoL regardless of family caregiver status and remained important when controlling for factors related to advanced age. This finding remained among family caregivers, though they reported lower pain intensity. Factors other than pain were shown to be important to mental HRQoL and should also be taken into consideration when discussing actions for family caregivers to maintain and improve health and HRQoL.