Aging is associated with a slowing of skeletal muscle contractile properties, including a decreased rate of relaxation. In rats, the age-related decrease in the maximal rate of relaxation is reversed after 4-wk administration with the beta2-adrenoceptor agonist (beta2-agonist) fenoterol. Given the critical role of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) in regulating intracellular Ca2+ transients and ultimately the time course of muscle contraction and relaxation, we tested the hypothesis that the mechanisms of action of fenoterol are mediated by alterations in SR proteins. Sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) kinetic properties were assessed in muscle homogenates and enriched SR membranes isolated from the red (RG) and white (WG) portions of the gastrocnemius muscle in adult (16 mo) and aged (28 mo) F344 rats that had been administered fenoterol for 4 wk (1.4 mg/kg/day ip, in saline) or vehicle only. Aging was associated with a 29% decrease in the maximal activity (Vmax) of SERCA in the RG but not in the WG muscles. Fenoterol treatment increased the Vmax of SERCA and SERCA1 protein levels in RG and WG. In the RG, fenoterol administration reversed an age-related selective nitration of the SERCA2a isoform. Our findings demonstrate that the mechanisms underlying age-related changes in contractile properties are fiber type dependent, whereas the effects of fenoterol administration are independent of age and fiber type.