The aim of the study was to compare the impact of socioeconomic factors and self-rated health on participation in leisure time physical activity (LTPA) among former athletes and male non athletes. In the spring-summer of 1997 - 2002, two groups of males between the ages of 18 - 51 years were enrolled in the study: former athletes (n=175) and men without any (past or present) competitive sports experience (n=197). Sample selection was deliberate according to the "easy access" criterion. An anonymous, postal self-return survey included questions concerning the variables of frequency, time spent on LTPA and form of participation in LTPA, socioeconomic variables (age, marital status, residence, educational level, occupation, income level) and selfrated health (categories: very good, good, moderate, poor and very poor). Statistical analysis of the study included test of differences between two structural components and X2 test. In both groups, poor participation in LTPA was significantly associated with a negative self-rated health and low socioeconomic status (blue-collar work or unemployment, low income, low educational level), and in the group of men without any competitive sports experience, also with the age range of 35 - 51 years, and residence in a rural area. Furthermore, the impact of poor socioeconomic status on participation of men in LTPA was found to be weaker among former athletes than in men without any past competitive sports experience. The results of the study indicate that the following are necessary to improve participation of men in LTPA: propagation of competitive sports among boys and young men, and elimination of socioeconomic barriers for their physical activity.