Although nursing home residents with cognitive impairment are characterized by variations in functional capacities, we do not know how their participation in different activities is related to different types of function. The aim of our study was to compare the duration of participation behaviour in different activities among residents in special care units with informations about functional capacity. One hundred residents participated in six different activities after measures of mini mental state examination (MMSE) and basic behaviour were completed. Residents without participation behaviour during the activities were offered participation in tactile activities. Analyses showed that duration of participation behaviour was related to MMSE scores and to measures of basic behaviour.