Abstract The objective of this paper is to examine short-term trends in the prevalence of limitation in Activities of Daily Living (ADL), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and Nagi physical functioning tasks among persons age 60 years or older in five Asian settings: Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and the Beijing Municipality. The data come from recent panel surveys of older adults that span a period of 3â€“4 years during the mid to late 1990s. Results suggest a general trend toward an increase in functional limitation in four of the five settings, with the most pronounced increases occurring for the Nagi functioning tasks. Compositional differences in the population accounted for little of the increase. The paper discusses the potential implications of these results and places them in the context of past and current trends in functional limitation observed in the United States.