AIM: To determine the pattern of utilization of emergency department (ED) services by older patients in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, compared with younger patients in the same setting. METHODS: The sociodemographics, clinical characteristics and resource utilization of consecutive patients attending the adult ED at the University Malaya Medical Center were recorded during a typical week. RESULTS: A total of 1649 patients were included in the study; 422/1649 (25.6%) were aged >/=60 years and 1077 (74.4%) were aged <60 years. Older adult patients were more likely to be diagnosed with ischemic heart disease (12.6% vs 2.5%, P < 0.001), and more likely to require investigations such as electrocardiogram (68.1% vs 16.6%, P < 0.001) or chest X-rays (67.6% vs 24.0%, P < 0.001) than their younger counterparts. Logistic regression methods showed that older adults remained an independent predictor of hospital admission (OR 2.75, 95% CI 2.11-3.57). CONCLUSION: The ratio of older adult patients attending our ED over the proportion of older people in the general population was 26:6, which is far higher than reported in previous published studies carried out in other countries. Older ED attenders are also more likely to require investigations, procedures and hospital admissions. With the rapidly aging population in Malaysia, reconfiguration of resources will need to occur at a compatible rate in order to ensure that the healthcare needs of our older adults are met. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2015; 15: 944-950.