PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to assess the influence of age on the functional activity of the multidrug efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) at the human blood-brain barrier. METHODS: Seven young (mean age: 27 +/- 4 years) and six elderly (mean age: 69 +/- 9 years) healthy volunteers underwent dynamic (R)-[(11)C]verapamil (VPM) positron emission tomography (PET) scans and arterial blood sampling. Parametric distribution volume (DV) images were generated using Logan linearisation, and age groups were compared with statistical parametric mapping (SPM). Brain regions that SPM analysis had shown to be most affected by age were analysed by a region of interest (ROI)-based approach using a maximum probability brain atlas, before and after partial volume correction (PVC). RESULTS: SPM analysis revealed significant clusters of DV increases in cerebellum, temporal and frontal lobe of elderly compared to younger subjects. In the ROI-based analysis, elderly subjects showed significant DV increases in amygdala (+30%), insula (+26%) and cerebellum (+25%) before PVC, and in insula (+33%) after PVC. CONCLUSIONS: Increased VPM DV values in the brains of elderly subjects suggest a decrease in cerebral P-gp function with increasing age.