The purpose of this study was to characterize the effects of aging on gastric acid secretion and on serum and antral concentrations of gastrin in rats. Young and old Fischer 344 rats were prepared with gastric fistulas. Twenty-four hours after surgery, graded doses of human synthetic gastrin-17 (SHG-17) (2, 5, 10, 20, and 40 μg/kg) were given intravenously in random order. Gastric secretions were collected for gastric acid measurement before and at 15-min intervals after each dose of gastrin. In a separate study, blood was collected and the stomachs were removed for antral gastrin extraction from fed young and old rats. Serum and antral gastrin was measured by radioimmunoassay. The basal and gastrin-stimulated acid secretions were significantly decreased in aged rats compared to the young rats. The basal acid output was 0.4±0.2 μeq/15 min in the aged rats and 1.5±0.5 μeq/15 min in the young. The maximal acid output stimulated by gastrin was 11.1±1.8 μeq/15 min in the aged rats and 24.2±2.8 μeq/15 min in the young. Both serum and antral concentrations of gastrin were significantly decreased in aged rats. Serum gastrin concentration was 114.8±7.4 pg/ml in the aged rats and 192.0±14.4 pg/ml in the young. Antral gastrin concentration was 3.9±0.5 μg/g tissue in the aged rats, which was significantly less than the concentration in the young (6.5±0.4 μg/g tissue). Antral gastrin content did not change with aging. Gastric acid secretion in aged rats is significantly decreased compared to the young in both the basal condition and in response to fixed doses of exogenous gastrin. Diminished concentrations of circulating gastrin may well be responsible, at least in part, for the diminished acid secretion in the aged rats.