The elevated levels of circulating catecholamines (CAs) with age may be related to the increased expression of CA biosynthetic enzymes, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine beta hydroxylase (DOH) in the adrenal medulla of senescent compared with younger animals. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is co-synthesized and co-released with CAs in the adrenal medulla. NPY inhibits the stimulated secretion of CAs, however, its role in regulation of the genes encoding CA biosynthetic enzymes is not clear. We hypothesized that NPY up-regulates TH, DbetaH and NPY expression in the adrenal medullae of young and old Fischer-344 rats. NPY increased mRNA expression of TH, DbetaH, NPY and also enhanced TH protein level in the adrenal medullae of young rats by 50%, 35%, 45% and by 20%, respectively. We also examined the effect of NPY on TH and NPY mRNA in the hypothalamus. Basal expression of TH mRNA was decreased in the hypothalamus with age. DNA binding activities of activator protein-1 and cAMP response element binding protein were also augmented only in the young by 140% and 125%, respectively. We conclude that NPY stimulates the CA biosynthetic pathway in the adrenal medulla and positive auto-regulation of NPY might be involved in this process. The stimulatory effect of NPY on adrenomedullary CA biosynthetic pathway is blunted with age. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.