Co-production is currently promoted by governments as a response to public service reform in conditions of austerity and, within a neoliberal ideology, to compel individual and collective responsibility. While co-production is intuitively attractive in its appeal to community collectivism and provision of locally appropriate services, there is a lack of reflection on the actual capacity of rural communities to become co-producers. This study considers co-production as a form of participation requiring attributes of volunteering and social involvement. It applies a model of formal participation with 5 levels from attendance at community events to organising new services, in order to assess the potential for service co-production by rural older people in 6 Scottish settlements. We find that rural older people are already heavily participating in community activities but with lower numbers taking part in the activities that require higher levels of commitment. It is the most well ‘resourced’ in terms of personal characteristics such as education that are most likely to participate. There are few older people who are willing to help their community that are not already involved in formal participation. Overall, findings suggest there is a very small potential pool of non-involved rural older residents who are willing to participate at high levels of commitment (co-production). Further research is now needed to build on these findings, and particularly to explore what it is that will encourage those already involved at some level to step up to co-production.