High levels of aggressive behaviors against intruders in the nest area are displayed by female rats during the first 10 days after delivery, declining thereafter to very low levels, even though lactation continues. Cross-fostering experiments were undertaken to test the hypothesis that pup age may affect aggression in lactating rats. The behavior of females on the 8th day after delivery when raising fostered 8-day-old pups was compared to that of females on the 8th postpartum day raising older pups (18 days old) for the last 5 days, and females on the 18th day after delivery raising fostered 18-day-old pups were compared to females in the same postpartum period nursing younger pups (8 days of age at the time of the maternal aggression test) for 5 days. Pup retrieval activity and plasma prolactin level were also analyzed. Females on the 8th postpartum day nursing 18-day-old pups were less aggressive than females in the same postpartum period, but with 8-day-old pups. Likewise, females on the 18th postpartum day nursing younger pups were more aggressive and presented higher levels of prolactin than females nursing older pups. Thus, pup development can alter the natural decline of maternal aggressive behavior.