BACKGROUND: The ability of older people to function independently is crucial as physical disability and functional limitation have profound impacts on health. Interventions that either delay the onset of frailty or attenuate its severity potentially have cascading benefits for older people, their families and society. This study aims to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a multiComponent Exercise and theRApeutic lifeStyle (CERgAS) intervention program targeted at improving physical performance and maintaining independent living as compared to general health education among older people in an urban poor setting in Malaysia. METHODS: This cluster randomised controlled trial will be a 6-week community-based intervention programme for older people aged 60 years and above from urban poor settings. A minimum of 164 eligible participants will be recruited from 8 clusters (low-cost public subsidised flats) and randomised to the intervention and control arm. This study will be underpinned by the Health Belief Model with an emphasis towards self- efficacy. The intervention will comprise multicomponent group exercise sessions, nutrition education, oral care education and on-going support and counselling. These will be complemented with a kit containing practical tips on exercise, nutrition and oral care after each session. Data will be collected over four time points; at baseline, immediately post-intervention, 3-months and 6-months follow-up. DISCUSSION: Findings from this trial will potentially provide valuable evidence to improve physical function and maintain independence among older people from low-resource settings. This will inform health policies and identify locally acceptable strategies to promote healthy aging, prevent and delay functional decline among older Malaysian adults. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN22749696.