BACKGROUND: after 1 year, a home-based programme of strength and balance retraining exercises was effective in reducing falls and injuries in women aged 80 years and older. The exercise programme had been individually prescribed by a physiotherapist during the first 2 months of a randomized controlled trial. OBJECTIVE: we aimed to assess the effectiveness of the programme over 2 years. SUBJECTS: women from both the control group and the exercise group completing a 1-year trial (213 out of the original 233) were invited to continue for a further year. METHODS: falls and compliance to the exercise programme were monitored for 2 years. RESULTS: 81 (74%) in the control group and 71 (69%) in the exercise group agreed to continue in the study. After 2 years, the rate of falls remained significantly lower in the exercise group than in the control group. The relative hazard for all falls for the exercise group was 0.69 (95% confidence interval 0.49-0.97). The relative hazard for a fall resulting in a moderate or severe injury was 0.63 (95% confidence interval 0.42-0.95). Those complying with the exercise programme at 2 years had a higher level of physical activity at baseline, were more likely to have reported falling in the year before the study and had remained more confident in the first year about not falling compared with the rest of the exercise group. CONCLUSIONS: falls and injuries can be reduced by an individually tailored exercise programme in the home. For those who keep exercising, the benefit continues over a 2-year period.