OBJECTIVE: To examine whether a multidisciplinary rehabilitation programme can improve functional recovery and quality of life and reduce the use of rehabilitation services compared with conventional care one year after total knee arthroplasty. DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, non-blinded, controlled trial. SETTING: An outpatient centre-based setting. SUBJECTS: Eighty-six patients who were scheduled for primary total knee arthroplasty due to osteoarthritis of the knee. INTERVENTIONS: A ten-day multidisciplinary rehabilitation programme, which was focused on enhancing functional capacity, was organized 2-4 months after surgery. In both groups, a standard amount of physiotherapy was included in conventional care. MAIN MEASURES: The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), the 15D, 15-m walk test, stair test, isometric strength measurement of the knee. Use of rehabilitation services was asked about with a questionnaire. Outcomes were assessed preoperatively and at 2-, 6- and 12-month follow-ups. RESULTS: In both groups, functional capacity and quality of life improved significantly. The mean absolute change in the WOMAC function score was -32.4 mm (SD 26.4) in the rehabilitation group and -32.8 mm (SD 20.1) in the control group (P-time*group = 0.40). No difference was found between groups in any outcome measure or in the use of rehabilitation services during the study period. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that for knee osteoarthritis patients treated with primary total knee arthroplasty, a 10-day multidisciplinary outpatient rehabilitation programme 2-4 months after surgery does not yield faster attainment of functional recovery or improvement in quality of life than can be achieved with conventional care.