Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by Australians is substantial and increasing, but little is known about its use by the elderly. We here present the findings for the elderly cohort in our recently conducted national survey on CAM use by adult Australians. In May and June 2005, computer-assisted telephone interviews, using random-digit telephone dialing, were employed to gather data on CAM use in the last 12 months. Of 1067 adult participants interviewed, 178 were 65 or older. More than half of these (57.8%; 95% CI, 50.7%-64.9%) had used at least one of 17 common forms of CAM and 60.4% of the CAM users had consulted CAM practitioners. Clinical nutrition, chiropractic, massage therapy, meditation, and herbal medicine were the most common forms of CAM used by the elderly. A higher proportion of the elderly had always used both CAM and conventional medical treatments (37.9%) than had those aged 18-34 (15.7%) and 35-64 (26.9%). Elderly CAM users (60.2%) were more likely than younger users to discuss their use with their doctors. Of those who did not do so, 24.1% were not asked by their doctors and 16.0% considered that their doctor would disapprove. In conclusion, we found that a substantial proportion of older Australians use CAM. The elderly are also more likely than younger adults to discuss their use of CAM with their doctors, but doctors need to play a more active role in initiating such communication.