Cognitive changes have been reported during healthy ageing, but there have been no investigations of older people's knowledge of transitive and intransitive forelimb postures and movements. A total of 18 healthy elderly participants in two age groups, old (66-76 years) and older (77-88 years), all of whom performed normally on the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) and Boston Naming Test (BNT), performed a transitive and intransitive gesture postural discrimination test. Whereas there were no significant differences between the two groups in education or performance on the MMSE and BNT, the older group performed significantly worse on both transitive and intransitive posture recognition with more errors in the recognition of transitive than in the recognition of intransitive postures. However, the recognition of both transitive and intransitive declined with age at a similar rate. These results support the hypothesis that, with ageing, there is a decrement in the brain systems important in the recognition of transitive and intransitive posture. © 2010 Psychology Press.