Previous studies have indicated that insulin secretion in response to glucose diminishes with age but insulin synthesis and gene transcription do not. To determine whether expression of genes other than those that encode insulin are subject to age-related changes that could alter pancreatic islet function, mRNAs for insulins I and II, amylin, glucose transporter 2 (GluT2), glucagon, and glucokinase were quantified in 2-, 6-, 12-, and 24-month-old Fischer 344 rats using species-specific ribonuclease (RNase) protection assays. There was only a modest (1.2- to 1.3-fold) increase in insulin I and insulin II mRNAs between ages 2 and 12 months. There were no statistically significant changes in levels of glucokinase mRNA with age. In contrast, the abundances of amylin, GluT2, and glucagon mRNAs all doubled during the same period. Variance in values from 24-month-old rats was too great to allow conclusions, except that the ratio of insulin II mRNA to insulin I mRNA increased with age. This change was not related to islet mass or total insulin mRNA abundance because it persisted at age 24 months, when total mRNA abundance had decreased. These results indicate that aging is associated with significant alterations in the relative proportion of expression of pancreatic islet cell genes implicated in insulin secretion and in intraislet glucose metabolism.