The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the biosynthesis of coenzyme Q9 (CoQ9) in isolated and perfused young (6 months) and aged (24 months) rat hearts, either under aerobic perfusion condition or during postischemic reperfusion. The young and aged hearts have been divided into 2 groups: Group A, aerobic perfusion for 60 min with recirculating Krebs-Henseleit solution, containing 0.8 microM p-OH-[U-14C]benzoate plus 2.5 mM mevalonlactone; Group B, severe ischemic perfusion for 30 min, followed by 60 min of reperfusion under the same experimental condition of Group A. At the end of the reperfusion the mitochondrial content of CoQ9 was lower in young than aged rat hearts (p < 0.01). In Group A the incorporation of the labeled precursor into mitochondrial CoQ9 was greater in the hearts of aged than young rats (p < 0.01); on the contrary, in Group B this incorporation was significantly reduced in aged than in young rats (p < 0.05). Thus, it is possible that, in the aged rat heart, the higher activity of CoQ9 biosynthesis is related to an elevated turnover of the coenzyme due to the aging process; moreover, this activity is partially reduced by an ischemic-reperfusion stress.