The concentration in collagen of hydroxypyridinium cross-linking amino acids was measured in samples of bone and cartilage from human subjects aged from 1 month to 80 years. Cortical and cancellous bone samples were dissected and analysed separately. In both bone and cartilage, the content of this mature form of cross-link reached a maximum by 10-15 years of age (the amount in cartilage being 5-10 times that in bone), then stayed essentially in the same range throughout adult life. In bone the ratio of the two chemical variants of the mature cross-link, hydroxylysylpyridinoline to lysylpyridinoline, was constant throughout adult life at 3.5:1, whereas in cartilage it was always greater than 10:1. The ratio of hydroxypyridinium cross-links to borohydride-reducible keto-amine cross-links also changed with age. The reducible cross-links in bone collagen decreased steeply in content between birth and 25 years, but persisted in significant amounts throughout adult life. Reducible cross-links had virtually disappeared from cartilage by 10-15 years of age, being replaced by hydroxypyridinium residues, their maturation products. Cancellous and cortical bone collagens showed similar trends with age in their content of mature cross-links, though for each subject the concentration in cancellous bone was always lower than in cortical bone, presumably reflecting the higher turnover rate and hence the more immature state of cancellous bone.