Domoate, a glutamate analog, is believed to be responsible for a seafood poisoning incident that caused acute neurological disturbances and chronic memory impairment in some victims, with the incidence of mortality and neuropsychological morbidity being highest among the aged. Domoate expresses neurotoxic (excitotoxic) activity in vitro by an action at the kainate subtype of glutamate receptor, and when administered to adult rats, it mimics kainate in causing status epilepticus and a severe seizure-brain damage syndrome. Because domoate is exceedingly expensive, we explored the feasibility of using kainate to study the age-linked features of domoate neurotoxicity. We administered kainate subcutaneously in various doses to young (5-6 months), middle-aged (12-13 months), and old (22-25 months) rats and found the middle-aged and old rats significantly more sensitive than young rats to the neurotoxic actions of kainate. Low doses of kainate, which were nontoxic to young rats, frequently triggered status epilepticus, associated brain damage, and precipitous death in old rats. Middle-aged rats were more sensitive than young rats, but less sensitive than old rats to kainate neurotoxicity. These results suggest that the kainate-treated rat may be a useful model for studying mechanisms underlying age-related aspects of the human domoate neurotoxic syndrome.