Physiological variability of the naturally occurring, human salivary secretory peptidome was studied as a function of age. The qualitative and quantitative changes occurring in the secretion of proteins/peptides specific to the oral cavity (i.e., basic salivary proline-rich proteins, salivary acidic proline-rich phosphoproteins, statherin, proline-rich peptide P-B, salivary cystatins, and histatins) were investigated by high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry in 67 subjects aged between 3 and 44 years. Subjects were divided into five age groups: group A, 8 donors, 3-5 years; group B, 11 donors, 6-9 years; group C, 20 donors, 10-12 years; group D, 15 donors, 13-17 years; group E, 13 donors, 24-44 years. Basic salivary proline-rich proteins, almost undetectable in the 3-5 and 6-9 years groups, reached salivary levels comparable to that of adults (24-44 years) around puberty. Levels of peptide P-D, basic peptide P-F, peptide P-H, peptide P-J (a new basic salivary proline-rich protein characterized in this study), and basic proline-rich peptide IB-1 were significantly higher in the 10-12-year-old group than in the 3-5-year-old group, whereas the increase of proline-rich peptide II-2 was significant only after the age of 12 years. The concentration of salivary acidic proline-rich phosphoproteins, histatin-3 1/24, histatin-3 1/25, and monophosphorylated and diphosphorylated cystatin S showed a minimum in the 6-9-year-old group. Finally, the histatin-1 concentration was significantly higher in the youngest subjects (3-5 years) than in the other groups.