BACKGROUND: Although both thyroid histology and serum concentrations of hormones are known to change with age, only a few reports exist on the relationship between the age-related structural and functional changes of the thyroid follicles in both mice and humans. Our objectives were to investigate age-related histological changes of the thyroid follicles and to determine whether these morphological changes were associated with the functional activity of the follicles. METHODS: The thyroid glands of mice at 18 weeks and at 6, 15, and 30 months of age were histologically examined, and the serum levels of thyroid hormones were measured in 11-week-old and 20-month-old mice. Samples of human thyroid tissue from 10 women over 70 years old and 10 women between 30 and 50 years of age were analyzed in conjunction with serum thyroid hormone level. RESULTS: The histological and functional changes observed in the thyroid follicles of aged mice and women were as follows: variable sizing and enlargement of the follicles; increased irregularity of follicles; Sanderson’s polsters in the wall of large follicles; a large thyroglobulin (Tg) globule or numerous small fragmented Tg globules in follicular lumens; oncocytic change in follicular cells; and markedly dilated follicles empty of colloid. Serum T3 levels in 20-month-old mice and humans were unremarkable. CONCLUSIONS: Thyroid follicles of aged mice and women show characteristic morphological changes, such as cystic atrophy, empty colloid, and Tg globules.