Near-IR spectroscopy (NIRS) is an optical technique that provides information on cerebral tissue oxygenation and hemodynamics on a continuous, direct, and noninvasive basis. It is used to determine cerebral blood volume (CBV) and cerebrovascular CO2 reactivity during normoxic hyper- and hypocapnia in a group of 28 healthy volunteers aged 20 to 83 years. The main focus is on to the age dependency of the measured variables. The influence of changes in minute ventilation during normocapnia on the cerebral oxygenation was also studied. The mean CBV in age was, for 20 to 30 years, 2.14 +/- 0.51 ml/100 g of brain tissue; for 45 to 50 years, 1.92 +/- 0.40 ml/100 g; and for 70 to 83 years, 1.47 +/- 0.55 ml/100 g. The CBV showed a significant decease with advancing age. No influence was found for a change in minute ventilation on cerebral oxygenation. During hypercapnia cerebral blood flow (CBF) significantly increased in al age groups, with a factor of 1.31 +/- 0.17 kPa-1, 1.64 +/- 1.39 kPa-1, and 2.4 +/- 1.7 kPa-1, respectively, for the three age groups. The difference in change among the age groups was not statistically significant. The trend seen was an increased change in CBF with advancing age. During hypocapnia, the CBF significantly decreased in all age groups, with a factor of 0.89 +/- 0.08 kPa-1, 0.89 +/- 0.04 kPa-1, and 0.85 +/- 0.11 kPa-1, respectively. There was no significant difference among the age groups.