The objective of this study was to explore any age-related morphological changes in the vasa vasorum of the rat femoral artery. Vascular corrosion casts were prepared from 2, 12 and 24-month-old rats. Examination of the casts with the scanning electron microscope revealed dramatic differences in the appearance of the vessels of young and aged rats. The vasa vasorum of 2-month-old rats consisted of a dense network of capillaries. These vessels were dramatically reduced in number by 12 months, and even fewer capillaries were present at 24 months. This reduction in capillary density is consistent with the observed age-related decreases in oxygen tension and may explain why the aged are more prone to atherosclerosis.