Three-dimensional (3D) type I collagen gels are increasingly utilized to simulate extracellular matrix (ECM) in vivo, but little is known about the effects of age on this model. Collagen was extracted from young (4-6 months) and aged (20-24 months) mice tails and compared. The collagens appeared similar by electrophoresis. However, relative to young, aged collagen formed fibrils slower and generated 3D gels with smaller diameter, less dense fibrils (75 vs 34 nm diameter and 8 vs 3.5% area, for young and aged respectively, p < 0.02). Correspondingly, aged collagen gels were more malleable and contractible (5% vs 19% compression, p < .02, and 73% vs 15.5% area, p < .01, for young and aged, respectively). Fibroblasts cultured within young and aged collagen gels had differential expression of a limited number of genes and proteins corresponding to specific integrins and matrix components. In summary, collagen extracted from young and aged mice is an effective means to examine the influence of aging on functional properties of ECM that are relevant in vivo.