AIM: To discuss the results of a comparison using minimum data set (MDS)-based quality indicators (QIs) for residents in nursing facilities in three countries (Iceland; Ontario, Canada; and Missouri, United States) together with implications regarding nursing practices and resident outcomes in these countries. METHOD: Data were extracted from databases in each country for four consecutive quarterly periods during 1997 and 1998. All facilities investigated had the required consecutive quarterly data. Analytical techniques were matched to measure resident outcomes using the same MDS-based QIs in the three countries. RESULTS: Similarities among the three countries included the use of nine or more multiple medications, weight loss, urinary tract infection, dehydration, and behavioural symptoms that affect others. Differences among the three countries included bowel and bladder incontinence, indwelling catheter use, fecal impaction, tube feeding use, development of pressure ulcers, bedridden residents, physical restraint use, depression without receiving antidepressant therapy, residents with depression, use of anti-anxiety or hypnotic drugs, use of anti-psychotic drugs in the absence of psychotic and related conditions, residents spending little or no time in activities, and falls. CONCLUSIONS: Comparisons highlighted differences in clinical practices among countries, which may account for differences in resident outcomes. Learning from each other's best practices can improve the quality of care for older people in nursing homes in many countries.