The elderly retarded population continues to grow rapidly, yet there remains a lack of understanding regarding many of the characteristics and needs of these individuals. The aging retarded person presents unique difficulties to care providers because of inconsistencies in population definition, lack of coordination between resources for the aging and retarded, and past neglect in the research literature. The literature regarding the elderly retarded individual is reviewed relative to (1) physical, behavioral, and emotional characteristics, (2) service delivery and programming needs, and (3) suggestions for improved research methodology which emphasize a consumer-oriented knowledge base. Caveats regarding the application of programming mandates for mentally retarded individuals to an aging population are also presented. Future work relating to elderly retarded individuals must take into consideration the rapidly shifting nature of the population through changes in the quality of health care, extent of programming, and governmental policies concerning care of the aged and the mentally retarded person.