Acute toxicity of nicotine was examined in old (24 months) and young (6 weeks) Wistar rats. There were no significant age differences in the mortality and convulsive responses induced by an intraperitoneal injection of nicotine (24.5 mg/kg). The lethal nicotine levels in blood and cortex and the latent period to death in old rats were larger than those in young rats. Cortical and blood nicotine levels 15 min. after the nicotine injection in old rats were also higher than those in young rats. Nicotine significantly increased dopamine, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and homovanillic acid levels in striatum and hippocampus in young rats, but not those in old rats. Moreover, nicotine-induced elevations in blood levels of corticosterone in old rats were also less than those in young rats. On the other hand, the cytochrome P-450 content, the nicotine oxidase activity and the flavin-containing monooxygenase activity in liver showed age-related decreases in the young, the middle-aged (12 months) and the old rats. These results indicate that the acute toxicity of nicotine in old rats reflects the decreases in hepatic nicotine metabolism and in brain sensitivity to nicotine.