The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the changes of taurine levels in the hearts of old rats on endogenous malondialdehyde (MDA) and diene conjugate (DC) levels and ascorbic acid(AA)- and NADPH-induced lipid peroxidation as well as nonenzymatic (glutathione, vitamin E and vitamin Q and enzymatic antioxidants (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione transferase). Two groups of old (22 mo) rats were treated with P-alanine (3%, w/v; in drinking water), a taurine depleting agent, or taurine (2% w/v; in drinking water) for 6 wk. Significant decreases were observed in taurine contents of hearts in old rats as compared to young (5 mo) rats. We found that MDA and DC levels and AA- and NADPH-induced lipid peroxidation increased, but non-enzymatic and enzymatic antioxidants did not alter in heart homogenates of aged rats. 6-Alanine administration resulted in significant decreases in heart taurine levels of old rats. This treatment did not cause further increases in MDA or DC levels or changes in antioxidants. However, AA-and NADPH-induced lipid peroxidation was higher than that of old rats. Taurine treatment caused significant increases in heart taurine levels of old rats. This treatment was found to decrease endogenous MDA and DC levels without affecting the antioxidant system in the heart homogenates of aged rats. AA- and NADPH-induced lipid peroxidation was also reduced in old rats when given taurine, although not statistically significantly. Our results indicate that the changes in heart taurine levels may influence the susceptibility of heart tissue to lipid peroxidation in aged rats and that taurine supplementation has protective effects on age-dependent oxidative stress in heart tissue.