Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with 99mTc-d,l-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (99mTc-d,l-HMPAO) was used to determine global and regional CBF in 53 healthy subjects aged 21-83 years. For the whole group, global CBF normalized to the cerebellum was 86.4% +/- 8.4 (SD). The contribution of age, sex, and atrophy to variations in global CBF was studied using stepwise multiple regression analysis. There was a significant negative correlation of global CBF with subjective ratings of cortical atrophy, but not with ratings of ventricular size, Evans ratio, sex, or age. In a subgroup of 33 subjects, in whom volumetric measurements of atrophy were performed, cortical atrophy was the only significant determinant for global CBF, accounting for 27% of its variance. Mean global CBF as measured with the 133Xe inhalation technique and SPECT was 54 +/- 9 ml/100 g/min and did not correlate significantly with age. There was a preferential decline of CBF in the frontal cortex with advancing age. The side-to-side asymmetry of several regions of interest increased with age. A method was described for estimation of subcortical CBF, which decreased with advancing cortical atrophy. The relative area of the subcortical low-flow region increased with age. These results are useful in distinguishing the effects of age and simple atrophy from disease effects, when the 99mTc-d,l-HMPAO method is used.