The level of intracellular Ca2+ plays a central role in normal and pathological signaling within and between neurons. These processes involve a cascade of events for locally raising and lowering cytosolic Ca2+. As the mechanisms for age-related alteration in Ca2+ dysregulation have been illuminated, hypotheses concerning Ca2+ homeostasis and brain aging have been modified. The idea that senescence is due to pervasive cell loss associated with elevated resting Ca2+ has been replaced by concepts concerning changes in local Ca2+ levels associated with neural activity. This article reviews evidence for a shift in the sources of intracellular Ca2+ characterized by a diminished role for N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and an increased role for intracellular stores and voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels. Physiological and biological models are outlined, which relate a shift in Ca2+ regulation with changes in cell excitability and synaptic plasticity, resulting in a functional lesion of the hippocampus.