The purpose of this study was to clarify the effect of aging on brain gamma-aminobutyric acid metabolism. We measured the cerebrospinal fluid gamma-aminobutyric acid concentration in subjects of various ages, including healthy volunteers and patients without neurological or psychiatric disease. The cerebrospinal fluid gamma-aminobutyric acid concentration was determined by radiolabelled receptor assay using [3H]gamma-aminobutyric acid. Cerebrospinal fluid gamma-aminobutyric acid was significantly higher in the control group (20s and 30s) than in the groups of subjects in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. There was a significant negative correlation between cerebrospinal gamma-aminobutyric acid concentration and age (p less than 0.01). These data suggest that dysfunction of brain gamma-aminobutyric acid metabolism increases with age, and that the various symptoms caused by abnormal gamma-aminobutyric acid metabolism in the brain are therefore more likely to appear in elderly people.