The effect of age on the signal intensity of normal lumbar intervertebral disks was studied. Twenty-seven cadavers ranging in age from newborn to 79 years were studied with use of a 1.5-T magnetic resonance (MR) imager within 48 hours of death. The signal intensity in the central area of the disk was measured on a sagittal image obtained with a long repetition time (TR) and a long echo time (TE) and correlated to the age. A significant correlation between the decrease in signal intensity and age was found, although signal intensity changed less than 6% in 80 years. The decrease in signal intensity is concomitant with decreases in water and glycosaminoglycans and increases in collagen in the disk.