Two subclasses of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies are produced in humans, IgA1 and IgA2, IgA2 being more resistant to digestion by bacterial proteases than IgA1. The amount of IgA in saliva has been shown to vary with age; however, little is known about the correlation between IgA subclass distribution in saliva and age. The purpose of this study was to determine whether differences exist in the levels and ratio of IgA subclasses in parotid saliva of children and adults. Parotid saliva was obtained from healthy children (age range 6-12 years, n = 14) and adults (age range 22-51 years, n = 20) using Schaefer cups. Samples were analyzed for levels of total IgA, IgA1, and IgA2 by ELISA. IgA and IgA1 levels were significantly higher in adults than in children. However, no differences were seen in the ratio of IgA1 and IgA2 in the two groups of subjects. These findings indicate that levels of IgA increase with age, whereas the IgA subclass ratio is established early in life.