There is growing concern over the increasing use of opioids to treat chronic pain in the elderly primarily because of the potential increased sensitivity to the adverse side effects. Here, we use a preclinical model (male Brown Norway X F344 rats aged 12, 18, 24, and 30. months) to describe the outcome of chronic fentanyl administration (1.0. mg/kg/day) on various physiological and behavioral measures. Continuous fentanyl administration resulted in an initial decrease in food consumption, followed by the development of tolerance to this effect over a 4-week period and a subsequent increase in food consumption during withdrawal. This change in food consumption was associated with decreases in body weight (predominantly due to a loss of fat mass) that was maintained through early withdrawal. After 1 month of withdrawal, only the 12-month old animals had fully regained body weight. Fentanyl administration resulted in a decrease in grip strength and an increase in locomotor activity that did not differ across age groups. There was no effect of fentanyl administration on rotarod performance. These results demonstrate that while there is a delayed recovery of body mass with age, the observed changes in behavioral responses are uniform across ages. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.