Aging is associated with significant structural and functional changes in the gastrointestinal tract. Gastrin, a hormone produced by G cells in the antrum of the stomach, stimulates proliferation of gastric mucosa; its synthesis appears to decrease with age. Life-long restriction of caloric intake is the only experimental manipulation that has been shown to retard aging processes in rats. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of short-term caloric restriction (CR) on the production and release of the hormone gastrin with aging. Aging causes a fall in both fasting plasma levels of gastrin and antral content of gastrin in Fischer 344 rats; short-term CR appears to augment this age-related decrease. Steady state levels of antral gastrin mRNA were decreased with aging, and short-term CR resulted in an augmented decrease in aged, but not in young rats. Our findings indicate that gastrin release, synthesis and gene expression decrease with age. Restriction of the caloric intake for a short period (i.e. 8 weeks) augments this age-related decrease in antral gastrin and fasting plasma levels. Short-term CR appears to decrease the production of gastrin at the level of gene expression.