To determine whether the age-associated decline in resting left ventricular diastolic filling persists during aerobic exercise, rest and bicycle exercise filling indexes were measured from gated radionuclide blood pool scans in 88 healthy men aged 22–82 yr. To evaluate the effect of physical conditioning status on these age-related changes, a subset of the subjects consisted of endurance-trained senior athletes with a maximal O2 consumption of 50.5 +/- 5 compared with 32.6 +/- 7 ml.kg-1 x min-1 in age-matched controls. The contribution of beta-adrenergic stimulation to exercise-induced changes in filling was also evaluated by the administration of intravenous propranolol to another subset before testing. Peak filling rate increased progressively at all ages with increasing exercise work loads. The peak filling rates at rest, 50% maximal exercise, and maximum exercise inversely correlated with age (r = -0.64, -0.53, -0.64, respectively). Rest and exercise filling indexes in senior athletes were similar to those of sedentary older subjects. Propranolol decreased exercise peak filling rates in young (37.2 +/- 7.5 yr) but not in older (62.1 +/- 6 yr) subjects. Therefore, filling rates increase with exercise in both young and older healthy men, but age differences persist at comparable relative work loads. This decline is not secondary to a decline in physical conditioning status but appears to be related to a decrease in beta-adrenergic responsiveness in older individuals.