The relapsing-remitting phase and the progressive phase of multiple sclerosis (MS) seem to be the result of distinct pathophysiological processes. Previous research on the natural history of MS was largely focussed on relapses and disability scores. In this study we evaluated 438 patients with secondary or primary progressive MS. The influence of gender, initial disease course, onset manifestation and age at disease onset on age at progression and time to progression were evaluated with Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and Cox multivariate regression models. The analysis of these data showed that the initial disease course (SPMS or PPMS) had no influence on the age at progression. Gender had no influence on age at progression in PPMS and SPMS patients nor on time to progression in SPMS patients. PPMS patients with visual or brainstem/cerebellar onset had a significantly younger age at progression. SPMS patients with motor onset had a significantly higher age at progression and longer time to progression. Time to progression was significantly shorter in SPMS patients with higher age at disease onset. Our data give further support to the notion that progression in MS is an age dependent process independent of relapses.