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Many studies have documented the decline in auditory function with age. We broaden that data base in this the first of a series of reports emanating from the auditory testing of the Framingham cohort during biennial exam 18. The results of the auditory questionnaire, hearing sensitivity, acoustic compliance measures, and word recognition tests obtained from 1662 men and women in their 60th through 90th decades are presented. Pure-tone thresholds increased with age but the rate of change with age did not differ by gender even though men had poorer threshold sensitivity. Maximum word recognition ability declined with age more rapidly in men than in women and was poorer in men than in women at all ages. Acoustic compliance and middle ear pressure did not vary with gender or age. Acoustic reflex thresholds to a contralat-era1 stimulus at 1 kHz increased slightly with age, more in women than in men; ipsilateral acoustic reflex thresholds did not vary with age or gender. Hearing aids were being used in only 10% of subjects likely to benefit from amplification.