In this study, questions in context-based and traditional chemistry textbooks were analysed from two perspectives that are at the heart of chemistry curricula reforms: a content perspective and a learning activities perspective. To analyse these textbook questions, we developed an instrument for each perspective. In total, 971 textbook questions were analysed. Textbook questions in context-based and traditional curricula appeared to differ significantly in their orientation on content and in the activation to engage students in certain learning activities. Although traditional curricula included more questions that stress traditional chemistry content and included more reproductive chemistry questions than context-based curricula, they were not always as traditional as we had expected. Context-based chemistry curricula focused more on chemistry content relating to societal/technological issues and chemistry theory development and also more questions were included that activate students to regulate their own learning. However, context-based chemistry curricula still included a considerable amount of traditional chemistry content and did not focus as much on higher order learning as we had expected. The developed instruments might be helpful in chemistry curricula design to gain insights into the content which is stressed and how students are activated by textbook questions to engage in learning.