OBJECTIVE: To understand the personal impact of venous leg ulceration from the patients' perspective. METHOD: Face-to-face, unstructured interviews were conducted with nine patient participants with venous leg ulcers. The interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and, using thematic analysis, the themes and subthemes which impacted on quality of life were identified. RESULTS: Four core themes were identified: the ulcer, symptoms, wound management and effects on daily life, with 16 subthemes that negatively impacted on quality of life (QoL) also identified. CONCLUSION: This qualitative study offers a valuable insight into the complex issues that impact on daily living for this patient group. The implications of the findings are far reaching and suggest that proactive symptom management and the fostering of a patient focus to consultations may improve QoL and encourage the patient to engage as an active partner in his/her management plan; both of which are explored in the subsequent phases of the larger study. DECLARATION OF INTEREST: This study was funded by West Midlands Strategic Health Authority. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.