BACKGROUND: Readmission is a serious and adverse event for elderly patients. Despite efforts, predicting the risk of readmission remains imprecise. The objective of this study is to examine if performance-based tests of daily activities can identify elderly patients at risk of readmission within 26 weeks after discharge from a short-stay unit in the emergency department. METHODS: The current study is an observational study based on data from 144 elderly patients included in a previous non-randomised controlled trial. Before discharge, patients were assessed for limitations in performing daily activities using three performance-based tests with predetermined cut-off values: the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills, Timed Up and Go and the 30s-Chair Stand Test. Outcome was risk of readmission within 26 weeks after discharge. RESULTS: Limitations in performing daily activities were associated with risk of readmission as measured by the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills motor scale (Crude OR = 4.38 [1.36; 14.12]), (Adjusted OR = 4.17 [1.18; 14.75]) and the 30s-Chair Stand Test (Adjusted OR = 3.36 [1.42; 7.93]). No significant associations were found in regards to other measures. CONCLUSION: The Assessment of Motor and Process Skills motor scale and the age, gender and comorbidity adjusted 30s-Chair Stand Test can identify elderly patients at increased risk of readmission after discharge from the emergency department. The results were limited by one-third of the patients did not perform the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills and the association between 30s-Chair Stand Test and risk of readmission were only positive when adjusted for age, gender and comorbidity.