National household and individual level data are used to explore perceived neighbourhood characteristics (PNC) and neighbourhood social participation (NSP) associations with later life disability onset (DO). The sample includes 3011 older people, with 8128 observations between 1995 and 2001. Three logistic regression models are developed. Model 1 - PNC is associated with DO (OR= 1.065). Model 2- NSP is associated with DO (OR=0.613). Model 3 - NSP does not buffer against PNCs in old age DO (OR=1.063). With growing emphasis on community care, harmful and protective neighbourhood roles must be considered when developing policy and health initiatives for old age disability. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.