The objectives of the study were to characterize male sexual functioning as related to age in community-dwelling older men. In 1989, a random sample of men aged 40-79 y (n=2115) without prior prostate surgery, prostate cancer, or other conditions known to affect voiding function (except benign prostatic hyperplasia) was invited (55% agreed) to participate in the Olmsted County Study of Urinary Symptoms and Health Status Among Men. In 1996, a previously validated male sexual function questionnaire was administered to the cohort. The questionnaire has 11 questions measuring sexual drive (two questions); erectile function (three) and ejaculatory function (two), as well as assessing problems with sex drive, erections, or ejaculation (three); and overall satisfaction with sex life (one). Each question is scored on a scale of 0-4, with higher scores indicating better functioning. Cross-sectional age-specific means (+/-s.d.) for drive, erections, ejaculation, problems, and overall satisfaction declined from 5.2 (+/-1.5), 9.8 (+/-2.5), 7.4 (+/-1.4), 10.7 (+/-2.2), and 2.6 (+/-1.0), respectively, for men in their 40s to 2.4 (+/-1.6), 3.3 (+/-3.4), 3.6 (+/-3.2), 7.7 (+/-3.8), and 2.1 (+/-1.2) for men 70 y and older (all P<0.001). The cross-sectional decline in function with age was not constant, with age-related patterns differing by domain. The percentage of men reporting erections firm enough to have intercourse in the past 30 days declined from 97% (454/468) among those in their 40s to 51% (180/354) among those in their 80s (P&<0.001). In age-adjusted analyses, men reporting regular sexual partners had statistically significantly higher levels of sex drive, erectile function, ejaculatory function, and overall satisfaction than those who did not report regular sexual partners. Sexual drive, erectile functioning, ejaculatory functioning, and overall sexual satisfaction in men show somewhat differing cross-sectional patterns of decline with advancing age. Active sexual functioning is maintained well into the 80s in a substantial minority of community-dwelling men.