OBJECTIVE: • To investigate the clinical profile differences among patients with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) based upon age at the time of diagnosis from childhood into the geriatric age group. METHODS: • An analysis of 268 patients with IC/PBS seen between 1990 and 2008 was performed. • Three age cohorts were analysed: <30 years, ≥30 years but <60 years, and ≥60 years of age at time of diagnosis. • Patient demographics, disease characteristics and IC/PBS-associated symptoms were compared across the three groups. RESULTS: • Of the 268 patients, 60 were <30 years of age at the time of IC diagnosis (median 22, range 11-29), 105 were ≥30 but <60 years (median 48, range 30-59) and 103 patients were ≥60 years of age (median 69, range 60-88). • Of the patients in the youngest, middle and oldest age cohorts: 12.0, 42.0 and 39.8% had Hunner's ulcers, respectively (P < 0.001). • Dyspareunia and external genitalia pain were more common in the youngest age cohort, P < 0.001 and P = 0.001, respectively. • Urinary urgency (P = 0.033), frequency (P = 0.006) and dysuria (P < 0.001) were also more common in patients diagnosed before 30 years of age. • The reported rate of nocturia and urinary incontinence increased with age, P = 0.002 and P < 0.001, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: • Patients with IC/PBS analysed across a wide spectrum of ages at time of diagnosis portrayed a unique symptom profile pattern. • Patients diagnosed at the youngest ages experienced significantly more urinary urgency, frequency, dysuria, dyspareunia and pain in their external genitalia. • Older patients had higher rates of nocturia, urinary incontinence and Hunner's ulcer disease. © 2011 The Authors BJU International © 2011 BJU International.