Trace element concentrations were determined in various human brain regions over the complete life span using instrumental neutron activation analysis. Several different patterns of trace element alteration were observed with age. Brain Al, Cl and Na concentrations increase with advancing age, while K, P and Rb decline. Ag, Co, Fe, Sb and Sc concentrations increase up to the 40 to 79 age range then decline. Br, Se and Zn remain relatively constant throughout adult life. Hg, Mn and Cs show no consistent trend with age. In infant brains Br and Cl increase and Al, Cr, Cs, Fe, Mn, P, Rb, Sc, Se and Zn decrease compared to adults. The essential elements that remain within narrow concentration limits throughout adult life suggest the presence of an efficient homeostatic mechanism for their regulation in the brain, while those that are altered with age suggest modifications in control mechanisms or altered relationships with other elements. Increased concentrations of non-essential elements may reflect accumulation from our environment, impaired removal or altered balance with other elements.