The aim of this study was to identify changes in cartilage intermediate layer protein/nucleotide pyrophosphohydrolase (CILP/NTPPH) expression in articular cartilage during aging. Adult (3-4 years old) and young (7-10 days old) porcine articular hyaline cartilage and fibrocartilage were studied by Northern blot analysis, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry using a complementary DNA (cDNA) probe encoding porcine CILP/NTPPH and antibody to a synthetic peptide corresponding to a CILP/NTPPH sequence. Northern blot analysis of chondrocytes showed lower expression of CILP/NTPPH messenger RNA (mRNA) in young cartilage than in adult cartilage. In adult cartilage, extracellular matrix from the surface to the middeep zone was immunoreactive for CILP/NTPPH, especially in the pericellular matrix surrounding the middeep zone chondrocytes. In young cartilage, chondrocytes were moderately immunoreactive for CILP/NTPPH throughout all zones except the calcified zone. The matrix of young cartilage was negative except in the superficial zone. In young cartilage, CILP/NTPPH mRNA expression was undetectable. In adult cartilage, chondrocytes showed strong mRNA expression for CILP/NTPPH throughout middeep zones. Protein and mRNA signals were not detectable below the tidemark. CILP/NTPPH secretion into matrix around chondrocytes increases with aging. In this extracellular site it may generate inorganic pyrophosphate and contribute to age-related calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystal deposition disease.