We present an estimate of the local X-ray luminosity function and emissivity for different subsamples of galaxies, namely Seyferts, LINERS, star-forming and passive (no-emission-line) galaxies. This is performed by convolving their optical luminosity function, as derived from the Ho et al. spectroscopic sample of nearby galaxies with the corresponding Lx/LB relation. The local galaxy emissivity is ≈ 1.6 × 1039 h erg s−1 Mpc−3 in agreement with the results from a number of cross-correlation analyses using large-area surveys. From our analysis, it becomes evident that the largest fraction of the galaxy emissivity comes from galaxies associated with active galactic nuclei (Seyferts but also LINERS) while the contribution of star-forming and passive galaxies is small. This independently supports the view that most of the yet unidentified X-ray sources in deep ROSAT fields which are associated with faint optical galaxies do harbour an active galactic nucleus.