Cyclic antidepressants are still a dominating group of psychotherapeutic drugs used in the treatment of depression. Dry mouth is one of their major side effects. In this study we analyzed the effects of the long-term administration of the tricyclic antidepressant desipramine and the reversibility of this treatment following a 15-day washout period on different parameters in parotid gland function in aging rats. We hypothesized that glandular function would be decreased, and recovery delayed with age. Drug treatment affected body weight, glandular weight, DNA synthesis, and the concentration of soluble and structural membrane proteins. Surprisingly, parotid flow rate was increased with desipramine in all ages. While the concentration of secreted proteins was generally decreased with treatment, total proteins secreted were quite stable. SDS/PAGE analysis revealed prominent changes with desipramine. Amylase activity was depressed with treatment, but only low residual cellular enzyme activity was detected in the glandular supernatant. Therefore, a secretory impairment with desipramine was excluded. The content of the antimicrobial proteins peroxidase and lysozyme was increased with desipramine in all age groups. Most parameters measured revealed delayed recovery with age. These data indicate that the tricyclic antidepressant desipramine has profound effects on parotid gland function, accented with age.