Levels of plasma very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) constituents increase with age. In an attempt to further define the mechanisms responsible for these changes, kinetic studies of VLDL and LDL apolipoprotein (apo) B-100 were carried out in 19 normolipidemic male subjects with plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride levels below the 90th percentile whose ages ranged from 24 to 73 years. Subjects were maintained on standardized diets consisting of 47-49% of calories as carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 36-40% fat (15-17% saturated, 15-17% monounsaturated, 6% polyunsaturated) with 150 mg cholesterol/1000 kcal. At the end of the diet period, the metabolism of apoB-100 within VLDL, intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), and LDL was studied in the fed state using a primed-constant infusion of [2H3]leucine. Data were fit to a multicompartmental model to determine residence times and production rates of apoB-100 in each fraction. There were significant positive correlations between age and VLDL, IDL, and LDL apoB-100 concentrations (r = 0.50, 0.62, and 0.69; P = 0.03, 0.004, and 0.001, respectively). There was a positive correlation between age and the production rate of VLDL apoB-100 (r = 0.50, P = 0.03), but there was no significant relationship between age and either IDL or LDL apoB-100 production rates. Age was also positively correlated with the residence time of LDL apoB-100 (r = 0.68 P = 0.001). Our data suggest that the age-associated increase in VLDL apoB-100 is due to an increased production rate of this constituent, whereas the age-associated increase in LDL apoB-100 is due to an increased residence time of these particles in plasma.