Objectives: We examined the longitudinal associations of social capital on self-rated health and differences by race/ethnicity in older adults. Methods: We used Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of US adults aged ≥ 50 years evaluated every 2 years (2006–2014) (N = 18,859). We investigated the relationship between social capital indicators (neighborhood social cohesion/physical disorder, positive/negative social support) with self-rated health accounting for age, gender, education and stratified by race/ethnicity. We used structural equation multilevel modeling estimating the associations: within-wave and between-persons. Results: We observed between-persons-level associations among social capital indicators and self-rated health. Individuals with overall levels of positive social support and neighborhood social cohesion tended to have overall better self-rated health [correlations 0.21 (p < 0.01) and 0.29 (p < 0.01), respectively]. For Hispanics, the correlations with self-rated health were lower for neighborhood social cohesion (0.19) and negative social support (− 0.09), compared to Whites (0.29 and − 0.20). African-Americans showed lower correlations of positive social support (0.14) compared to Whites (0.21) and Hispanics (0.28). Conclusions: Interventions targeting social capital are in need, specifically those reinforcing positive social support and neighborhood social cohesion and diminishing neighborhood physical disorder and negative social support of older adults.