The availability of reliable biomarkers of aging is important not only to monitor the effect of interventions and predict the timing of pathologies associated with aging but also to understand the mechanisms and devise appropriate countermeasures. Blood cells provide an easily available tissue and gene expression profiles from whole blood samples appear to mirror disease states and some aspects of the aging process itself. We report here a microarray analysis of whole blood samples from two cohorts of healthy adult and elderly subjects, aged 43±3 and 68±4 years, respectively, to monitor gene expression changes in the initial phase of the senescence process. A number of significant changes were found in the elderly compared to the adult group, including decreased levels of transcripts coding for components of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, which correlate with a parallel decline in the maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2max), as monitored in the same subjects. In addition, blood cells show age-related changes in the expression of several markers of immunosenescence, inflammation and oxidative stress. These findings support the notion that the immune system has a major role in tissue homeostasis and repair, which appears to be impaired since early stages of the aging process.