PURPOSE To determine whether low educational level is associated with poor functional recovery after hospitalization in older adults. METHODS We followed 862 patients (374 with low education, defined as <high school) for 6 months after hospitalization. Poor functional recovery was defined as an Activities of Daily Living score that was lower 6 months after hospitalization than 1 month before hospitalization. People who died were also considered to have poor recovery. RESULTS Of the 862 participants, 351 (41%) experienced poor functional recovery: 124 died and 227 had declines in activities of daily living. There was a graded, statistically significant relation between level of education and poor functional recovery, regardless of impairment of activities of daily living at baseline. Poor functional recovery was more common in subjects with baseline impairment (50% [147/296]) than in those without baseline impairment (36% [204/566]). Independent predictors of poor functional recovery were low education, cognitive impairment, lack of social support, poor self-rated health, and high comorbidity. Sequential addition of demographic, economic, functional, psychosocial, and clinical factors to low education only modestly affected the association between low education and poor functional recovery. CONCLUSION Educational disadvantage impairs functional recovery after hospitalization in older persons.