Previous studies of spatial contrast sensitivity in adulthood have produced conflicting results. To clarify the situation, we measured contrast sensitivity functions on a large sample of adults (n = 91). ranging in age from 19 to 87. All observers were free from significant ocular pathology and were individually refracted for the test distance. Sensitivity for stationary gratings of low spatial frequency remained the same throughout adulthood. At higher spatial frequencies, sensitivity decreased with age beginning around 40 to 50 years. When a low spatial frequency grating was drifted, young adults' sensitivity improved by a factor of 4-5 over sensitivity to a static grating: this motion enhancement was markedly diminished in adults over 60 years, implying an impairment of temporal processing in the elderly. Reduced retinal illuminance characteristic of the aged eye could account for a large part of older adults' deficit in spatial vision, but appeared to play little role in their deficit in temporal vision. © 1983.