Polyploidy is characterized by a greater than diploid content of DNA in a cell. Previous measurements of ploidy level in different organs of humans and rodents, including the aorta, indicated an increase in old versus young. We hypothesized that aortic vascular smooth muscle polyploidy is a biomarker for aging and that the augmented DNA dosage affects selective gene-specific transcript expression. Our results demonstrate that tetraploidy increases exponentially over the life span of the animal, serving as an indicator of age. Approximately 60% of the vascular smooth muscle cells in the thoracic aorta of 36-month-old Brown Norway rats are tetraploid compared with 8% in their 3-month-old counterparts. Microarray analysis and reverse transcriptase-PCR was performed with mRNA isolated from sorted diploid (2N) and tetraploid (4N) vascular smooth muscle cells from old rats to identify differentially expressed transcripts. For the majority of detectable transcripts, an increase in DNA content led to a proportional increase in mRNA. A select group of transcripts, however, were reduced in tetraploid compared with diploid cells. These mRNAs correspond to guanine deaminase, to the matrix proteins rat glypican 3 (OCI-5) and decorin, as well as to the inflammation-associated transcripts, insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 6, macrophage inflammatory protein 2 precursor, macrophage galactose N-acetylgalactoseamine-specific lectin, and complement component C4. Our study is the first to describe aortic ploidy level as a biomarker for aging and to indicate that changes associated with increased DNA content per cell may selectively suppress the expression of specific genes.