Geriatric patients who undergo intravenous sedation require careful intraoperative management, because respiratory and circulatory depression usually accompanies the administration of recommended adult sedative doses. This study examined results when a single benzodiazepine, diazepam or flunitrazepam, was carefully titrated to a clinical endpoint of conscious sedation. A total of 335 cases was divided into seven age groups. Mean sedative doses gradually decreased with age. The 60- to 69-yr group required about 75% of the adult recommended dose, the 70- to 79-yr group required 40% to 60%, and the 80- to 89-yr group required 30% to 45%. Pulse oximetry values also declined with age; respiratory depression was observed mainly in elderly patients. Declines in blood pressure after benzodiazepine administration were not correlated with age. The rise in blood pressure normally observed intraoperatively was suppressed both in young as well as old patients. We conclude that intravenous conscious sedation in elderly patients reduces stress-induced cardiovascular stimulation and that respiratory depression may occur at even low sedative doses.