This article is devoted to changes in the functional structure of Poland’s rural areas in the years 1988-1999, that is – in the period of transition from the socialist to market economy and the country’s preparations for the EU accession. As the result of functional classification of rural areas carried out in 1999, it proved possible to identify ten functional classes, which can be associated into five groups (i.e. areas with an agricultural function, with equal contribution from different functions, with prevalent forestry, with prevalent tourist/rest-and-recreation function, and with prevalent non-agricultural function). The functional classification obtained revealed that the ten-year period brought a strengthening of the agricultural function in central and eastern Poland, while the West and parts of the South witnessed an increase in the significance of functions outside agriculture. The latter were the result of the development of new economic activities, including farms engaging in the processing of agricultural products and the rendering of different kinds of services. In areas with a prevailing agricultural function, there has in general been a decline in the significance of the market- related agriculture, and an increase of its role in the self-supply for rural inhabitants.