Thalassemia is a chronic, inherited blood disorder, which, in its most severe form, causes life-threatening anemia. Advances in treatment have led to increased life expectancy however the need for chronic blood transfusions and chelation therapy remains a significant burden for patients. Our study compared health related quality of life (HRQOL) from the Thalassemia Clinical Research Network's (TCRNs) Thalassemia Longitudinal Cohort (TLC) study to US norms and assessed association with clinical variables. There were 264 patients over age 14 who completed the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey version 2 (SF36v2) baseline assessment. When compared to US norms, TLC patients had statistically significant (P < 0.05) worse HRQOL on five of the eight subscales (physical functioning, role-physical, general health, social functioning, and role-emotional) and on both summary scales (physical component summary and mental component summary). Women, older patients, and those with more disease complications and side effects from chelation reported lower HRQOL. In general, adolescents and adults with thalassemia report worse HRQOL than the US population, despite contemporary therapy. The SF-36 should become a standard instrument for assessing HRQOL in thalassemia to determine predictors of low HRQOL which may be better addressed by a multidisciplinary team.