Parameters of mastication, such as mandibular displacement, velocity and chewing cycle duration, were investigated in relation to age and rehabilitation with complete dentures. Two groups of elderly subjects (mean age 80 years), one with natural dentition and the other with complete dentures, and one group of young dentate adults (mean age 26 years) participated. Three-dimensional records of masticatory mandibular movements were obtained using the Selspot movement analysis system. There were no differences in the duration of the total or individual components of a chewing cycle, except for the closing phase, which was significantly longer in the complete denture group. Mandibular closing velocity was significantly lower in the two groups of elderly subjects than in the group of young adults. There was a high degree of inter-individual variation in mandibular displacement in all groups, but the mean vertical amplitude was smaller in the elderly groups compared to the group of young adults. For many of the parameters the variation was significantly greater in the groups of elderly subjects than in the younger group. Ageing thus appeared to have a more important effect than the state of the dentition on the parameters studied.