Volumetric proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) was used to generate brain metabolite maps in 15 young and 19 elderly adult volunteers. All subjects also had structural MR scans, and a model, which took into account the underlying structural composition of the brain contributing to each metabolite voxel, was developed and used to estimate the concentration of the N-acetyl-moiety (NAc), creatine (Cr), and choline (Cho) in gray matter and white matter. NAc concentration (signal intensity per unit volume of brain) was higher in gray than white matter and did not differ between young and old subjects despite significant gray matter volume deficits in the older subjects. To the extent that NAc is an index of neuronal integrity, the available gray matter appears to be intact in these older healthy adults. Cr concentrations were much higher in gray than white matter and significantly higher in the old than young subjects. Cho concentration in gray matter was also significantly higher in old than young subjects. Independent determination of metabolite values rather than use of ratios is essential for characterizing age-related changes in brain MRS metabolites.