OBJECTIVE To estimate the prevalence and factors associated with functional disability in adults in Brazil. METHODS We used information from the health supplement of the National Household Sample Survey in 2008. The dependent variable was the functional disability among adults of 18 to 65 years, measured by the difficulty of walking about 100 meters; independent variables were: health plan membership, region of residence, state of domicile, education level, household income, economic activity, self-perception of health, hospitalization, chronic diseases, age group, sex, and color. We calculated the gross odds ratios (OR), and their respective confidence intervals (95%), and adjusted them for variables of study by ordinal logistic regression, following hierarchical model. Sample weights were considered in all calculations. RESULTS We included 18,745 subjects, 74.0% of whom were women. More than a third of adults reported having functional disability. The disability was significantly higher among men (OR = 1.17; 95%CI 1.09;1.27), people from 35 to 49 years (OR = 1.30; 95%CI 1.17;1.45) and 50 to 65 years (OR = 1.38; 95%CI 1.24;1.54); economically inactive individuals (OR = 2.21; 95%CI 1.65;2.96); adults who reported heart disease (OR = 1.13; 95%CI 1.03;1.24), diabetes mellitus (OR = 1.16; 95%CI 1.05;1.29), arterial systemic hypertension (OR = 1.10; 95%CI 1.02;1.18), and arthritis/rheumatism (OR = 1.24; 95%CI 1.15;1.34); and participants who were admitted in the last 12 months (OR = 2.35; 95%CI 1.73;3.2). CONCLUSIONS Functional disability is common among Brazilian adults. Hospitalization is the most strongly associated factor, followed by economic activity, and chronic diseases. Sex, age, education, and income are also associated. Results indicate specific targets for actions that address the main factors associated with functional disabilities and contribute to the projection of interventions for the improvement of the well-being and promotion of adults' quality of life.