To assess changes in postural control among healthy elderly and to correlate with suspected age-related events, 33 women and 16 men were studied. Postural control was evaluated by vibration-induced body sway, measured on a force platform, and vibration sensation was tested with a tuning fork. Occurrence of spontaneous gaze and head-shake-induced nystagmus was observed with infrared charged couple device (CCD) cameras and the subjects' medical history was reviewed. Vibration perception was the major determinant for the magnitude of body sway. Although these senior citizens considered themselves healthy, they had a variety of ailments in their medical history, diminished vibration sensation and a high prevalence of vestibular asymmetry. Age per se was not a determinant factor in any of the findings. The study suggests that interest should also be directed to the status of sensation in the legs and vestibular asymmetry when assessing balance function in the elderly. Furthermore, the term "age concomitant" may be more appropriate than "age dependent" when describing decrements of functions such as postural control in elderly subjects.