Effects of age and long-term nutritional treatment on pancreas composition and digestive function were determined in rats fed a cereal-type chow after weaning (experiment 1) or diets with 30% casein and 34% butterfat, 54% starch, or 54% sucrose after 9 mo (experiment 2). The rats were adapted for 1-2 wk to a 15% whole-egg protein diet before killing. In experiment 1, pancreas size, nucleic acid, and digestive enzyme content increased significantly with age up to 3 mo. Values for pancreatic weight and DNA were significantly greater in 28-mo-old rats than in 12-mo-old rats. Pancreatic digestive enzyme content was 65-100% lower in rats with and without gross pathologic lesions. In experiment 2, mortality was higher and pathologic changes were more pronounced by 24 mo in rats fed the butterfat or sucrose diet. Usually, pancreatic enzymes were not reduced as much as in experiment 1, although chymotrypsinogen and trypsinogen concentrations were significantly and negatively correlated with the degree of pathologic change. Apparent digestibility of dietary nitrogen and food energy content was not reduced in rats with reduced enzyme reserves. The rate of incorporation in vitro of label into pancreatic protein and RNA did not differ significantly among aged and control rats.