Aim: To determine the prevalence, correlates and impact of shoulder pain in a population-based sample. Methods: The North West Adelaide Health Study is a representative longitudinal cohort study of people aged 18 years and over. The original sample was randomly selected and recruited by telephone interview. Overall, 3206 participants returned to the clinic during the second stage (2004-2006) and were asked to report whether they had pain, aching or stiffness on most days in either of their shoulders. Data was also collected on body mass index; shoulder range of motion, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors; the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index and the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF36) was used. Results: Overall, 22.3% of participants indicated that they had pain, aching or stiffness in either of their shoulders. Women, those aged 50 years and over, current smokers and those classified as obese were all significantly more likely to report shoulder pain. Respondents with shoulder pain scored lower on all domains of the SF36. In those with shoulder symptoms, women had more severe pain and worse shoulder function than men, and older people had worse shoulder function than younger people. Conclusion: Shoulder pain affects almost a quarter of people in the Australian community, with a significant detrimental impact on health-related quality of life and physical functioning.