We investigated whether caloric restriction (CR) improves physical performance in a rodent model of aging, and whether this effect is accompanied with a decrease in visceral adipose tissue production of proinflammatory cytokines. Body composition, standardized physical performance measures, as well as in vitro visceral adipose tissue cytokine secretion and circulating levels of an inflammatory marker were cross-sectionally assessed in ad libitum (AL)-fed and lifelong CR Fischer 344 X Brown Norway male rats aged 18, 24, and 29 months. Fat to lean mass ratio increased and physical performance declined with age in the AL rats. Compared to AL rats, CR rats had lower fat mass, fat to lean ratio, adipose tissue secretion of interleukin-6, and circulating levels of C-reactive protein, and higher physical performance scores. Therefore, CR may be an effective intervention for improving functional status into advanced age and is perhaps mediated via a reduction in adipose tissue-generated proinflammatory cytokine production. Copyright 2007 by The Gerontological Society of America.