Little is known about the relationship of aging to periodontal disease. The immune response undergoes aging-related changes resulting in loss of functional capacity. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between levels of serum IgG antibodies against suspected periodontal pathogenic microorganisms to the presence or absence of periodontal disease in an elderly (65-75 yrs) population. From this study, we obtained information concerning: (1) the ability to differentiate elderly individuals without disease from those with disease by their levels of antibodies against periodontal pathogens and (2) which periodontal pathogen(s) triggered those responses. IgG anti- Porphyromonas gingivalis (strains W83 and 381) levels in the serum of elderly patients with severe periodontal disease were the only antibody responses measured which were elevated compared to the elderly control group of subjects with no periodontal disease. Anti- Prevotella intermedia IgG levels in both elderly patient groups were depressed compared to anti- P. intermedia levels in the young normal control subjects. Serum IgG antibody levels to six other plaque microorganisms did not differentiate between diseased and normal, elderly or young subjects. This data suggested that P. gingivalis was associated with periodontal disease in this elderly group of individuals and that those elderly individuals were able to respond with a normal IgG immune response.