The hormonal form of vitamin D3, 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D3(1,25[OH]2D3), stimulates the breakdown of membrane phosphoinositides, generating inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) and diacylglycerol (DAG) in a variety of cell systems. Several studies suggest that alterations in the receptor-mediated phosphoinositide cascade are involved in the pathophysiology of aging. Therefore, the formation of IP3 and DAG were determined under basal conditions and after stimulation with physiological concentrations of 1,25(OH)2D3 in duodenum from young (3-mo-old) and aged (24-mo-old) rats. The hormone induced a transient and biphasic formation of IP3 and DAG. Values obtained in young rats peaking at 15 s (51% and 42% above basal levels for IP3 and DAG, respectively) and at 3 min (90% and 74% above basal levels for IP3 and DAG, respectively) were significantly decreased in duodenum from senescent animals (IP3: +20% and DAG: +18% above basal level at 15 s; and IP3: +18% and DAG: +29% above basal level at 3 min). The 1,25(OH)2D3-induced generation of DAG in both young and aged duodenum was effectively inhibited in the presence of neomycin, a phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitor, and was dependent on extracellular Ca2+. After the biphasic response, the levels of DAG generated by the hormone (10 min stimulation) remained elevated; the elevation occurred in the absence of IP3 production; and the elevated levels were not abolished by neomycin, implying that phospholipids other than phosphoinositides are the source of DAG. This 1,25(OH)2D3-dependent late phase of DAG generation was also diminished in aged animals. The precise molecular basis and the physiological significance of decreased liberation of IP3 and DAG by 1,25(OH)2D3 in the aged rat duodenum remains to be determined.