OBJECTIVE: To describe quality of life in men and women who had terminated in vitro fertilization (IVF) within the public health system 4-5.5 years previously, and for whom treatment did not result in childbirth. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Reproductive Unit, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden. SAMPLE: Four hundred pairs were invited to participate, 71% accepted and 68% completed questionnaires. METHODS: Questionnaire study. Study subgroups were compared with a control group with children and with each other. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Psychological General Well-Being (PGWB), Sense of Coherence (SOC), experience of infertility, demographic-socio-economic and health characteristics were measured. RESULTS: Surprisingly, 76.7% had or lived together with children; 39.6% had biological children, 34.8% had adopted and 3.7% were parents to both biological and adopted children. No differences were found between the study and the control groups, except in SOC which scored lower in the study group. The study group with children had a higher PGWB index than the 23.3% without children and the controls. SOC scored higher in the subgroup with than those without children. Infertility was still a central issue in the subgroup without children. CONCLUSION: Despite having undergone unsuccessful IVF within the public health system, more than 75% lived with children 4-5.5 years later. This subgroup had a better quality of life, compared to those without children. Additional IVF treatment may result in increased quality of life.