Changes in distensibility and cross-sectional compliance of the common carotid artery with age were studied in 80 presumed healthy volunteers, varying in age between 20 and 69 y. The distensibility was assessed from the relative increase in arterial diameter during systole normalized with respect to the arterial pulse pressure. The cross-sectional compliance was obtained by multiplying the distensibility by the arterial diameter. The relative diameter changes of the common carotid artery during the cardiac cycle were recorded on-line with a high resolution multigate pulsed Doppler system. The arterial diameter was assessed from the width of the velocity profiles which can also be recorded on-line with this system. Arterial pulse pressure was determined from brachial artery cuff blood pressure measurements. Both distensibility and cross-sectional compliance of the common carotid artery decreased linearly with age, starting in the third age decade. The reduction in the latter parameter was less pronounced, probably as a consequence of an increase in arterial diameter with age.