OBJECTIVES: To measure the use of healthcare services and assistive devices by centenarians in five countries. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using a survey questionnaire. SETTING: Community-dwelling and institutionalised centenarians living in Japan, France, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark. PARTICIPANTS: 1253 participants aged 100 or in their 100th year of life, of whom 1004 (80.1%) were female and 596 (47.6%) lived in institutions. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Recent use of medical visits, nursing care at home, home-delivered meals, acute care hospital stays overnight, professional assessments such as sight tests, mobility aids and other assistive devices. A set of national healthcare system indicators was collected to help interpret differences between countries. RESULTS: There was considerable variability in the healthcare services and assistive devices used by centenarians depending on their country and whether they were community-dwelling or institutionalised. In contrast to the relatively homogeneous rates of hospitalisation in the past year (around 20%), community-dwelling centenarians reported widely ranging rates of medical visits in the past 3 months (at least one visit, from 32.2% in Japan to 86.6% in France). The proportion of community-dwellers using a mobility device to get around indoors (either a walking aid or a wheelchair) ranged from 48.3% in Japan to 79.2% in Sweden. Participants living in institutions and reporting the use of a mobility device ranged from 78.6% in Japan to 98.2% in Denmark. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest major differences in care received by centenarians across countries. Some may result from the characteristics of national healthcare systems, especially types of healthcare insurance coverage and the amounts of specific resources available. However, unexplored factors also seem to be at stake and may be partly related to personal health and cultural differences.