To examine the effects of 9 weeks of strength training (ST) and 31 weeks of detraining on regional muscle area in young and older men and women, three regions of the quadriceps muscle area (proximal, middle, and distal) were measured via MRI in 11 men ages 20-30, 11 men ages 65-75, 10 women ages 20-30, and 11 women ages 65-75. These effects were assessed by determining the difference between the control limb and the trained limb (T-UT) at all three time points. This design provided control for possible influences of biological, methodological, seasonal variations, as well as influences due to attention or genetic differences that commonly occur between experimental and control groups. There were no significant differences in any of the three regions at any of the three time points, when comparing subjects by age. However, men had significantly greater T-UT CSA at the after ST time point [6.9 (3.7) cm(2)] when compared with women [2.8 (3.7) cm(2), P < 0.05]. Baseline T-UT CSA was higher than after detraining T-UT CSA for young men in the proximal and middle regions [0.1 (3.6), 0.4 (3.6) cm(2) vs. 2.8 (4.0), 2.4 (3.6) cm(2), P < 0.05], but there were no significant differences within the other three groups. These data indicate that sex may influence changes in regional CSA after ST, whereas age does not influence regional muscle gain or loss due to ST or detraining.