1. The concentrations of electrolytes and free amino acids in plasma and the quadriceps femoris muscle were studied in ten apparently healthy elderly men, 52–77 years of age. The results were compared with those previously recorded for men 20–36 years old.
2. The two groups of subjects did not differ with regard to serum electrolytes and intracellular water content but the extracellular water in the older subjects exceeded that of the younger group by about 50%. The muscle specimens of the elderly men were also characterized by a 40% elevation of their total contents of Na+ and Cl−, whereas the content of K+ and Mg2+ was almost identical in both groups.
3. The means recorded for the plasma concentrations of most amino acids tended to be higher in the elderly men. The differences reached statistical significance for tyrosine, histidine, valine, lysine and total essential amino acids. In keeping with the findings in plasma, the amino acid concentrations in the muscle of the older group tended to exceed those of the younger ones. The difference reached statistical significance with regard to total amino acids, essential and non-essential amino acids, aspartate, alanine, citrulline, histidine, arginine, leucine and lysine. The various mechanisms that may contribute to these findings are discussed.