Contractile responses to norepinephrine, serotonin and potassium chloride were determined in vitro for aortas from rats 1, 2, 3 and 12 months of age. Responses were measured under conditions of optimum length (3 cm) and resting tension (1 g). Aortic response to a maximum concentration of norepinephrine was greatest for vessels from 3-month-old rats. For all three agonists, aortas from 12-month-old rats contracted less than aortas from 2-month-old rats. The role of calcium in aortic contraction also varied with age. For rats 1–2 months of age, serotonin and potassium chloride-induced contractions were highly dependent on extracellular calcium, while norepinephrine-induced contraction showed only a slight dependence on extracellular calcium. In 12-month-old rats, all agonists were dependent on extracellular calcium for contraction. For serotonin and norepinephrine, the ability of muscle to contract in calcium-free media was decreased with age. Although the mechanism for such an altered dependence of aortic contraction on calcium has not been established, it is proposed that the utilization of extracellular calcium for contraction is not only agonist- but also age-dependent.