The effect of a standardized breakfast (405 kcal) on blood pressure and heart rate was studied in 25 healthy elderly subjects (mean age 79.8 +/- 5.7 years) and in 20 healthy young volunteers (mean age 31.5 +/- 4.8 years). In the elderly the maximal fall of systolic blood pressure was 7.1 +/- 1.5% and of diastolic blood pressure 14.1 +/- 1.7% at 50 min after the start of the breakfast. In the younger group, blood pressure did not change significantly after breakfast. In both groups heart rate increased significantly. The postprandial blood pressure reduction in the elderly was correlated with preprandial blood pressure. There was also a significant correlation between blood pressure reduction and age if corrected for preprandial blood pressure. In conclusion, in contrast to the younger subjects, elderly healthy subjects showed a clear blood pressure reduction after breakfast.