Age-dependent changes in thermal sensitivity were evaluated with reflex-and operant-based assessment strategies in animals ranging in age from 8 to 32 months. The impact of inflammatory injury on thermal sensitivity was also determined in animals of different ages. The Results showed that operant measures of escape behavior are needed to demonstrate significant changes in thermal sensitivity across the life span of female Long-Evans rats. Increased escape from both heat (44.5°C) and cold (1.5°C-15°C) was observed for older animals, with a greater relative increase in sensitivity to cold. Physical performance deficits were demonstrated with aging but were not associated with changes in escape responding. Reflex responding to cold stimulation was impaired in older animals but was also influenced by physical disabilities. Reflex responding to heat was not affected by increasing age. Inflammation induced by formalin injections in the dorsal hindpaw increased thermal sensitivity significantly more in older animals than in their younger counterparts. © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved.