BACKGROUND: Crohn disease is characterized by fluctuating clinical behaviour, which is influenced by various factors. There are no data from Latin America that evaluate the clinical behaviour of Crohn disease in elderly patients.OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the clinical course of elderly onset Crohn disease compared with younger onset in the Mexican population.METHODS: The present analysis was a case-control study that included 132 patients with a histopathological diagnosis of Crohn disease between 1983 and 2013 in an inflammatory bowel disease clinic of a tertiary care centre. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 17 (IBM Corporation, USA) and descriptive statistics, χ2 and Fisher’s exact test for categorical variables and Student’s t test for numerical variables. Univariate and multivariate analysis were performed to identify associated risk factors and OR was calculated.RESULTS: A total of 132 patients (73 men and 59 women) were divided into two groups according to age at diagnosis: 27 cases (>60 years of age) and 105 controls (≤60 years of age). Factors influencing the clinical course of Crohn disease in the elderly were: female sex (OR 2.55 [95% CI 1.06 to 6.10]; P=0.02); colonic location (OR 0.22 [95% CI 0.03 to 0.89]; P=0.02); mild clinical behaviour of disease (OR 10.08 [95% CI 3.74 to 27.17]; P=0.0001); response to medical treatment (OR 2.85 [95% CI 1.08 to 7.48]; P=0.02); frequent use of sulfasalazine (OR 4.46 [95% CI 1.22 to 16.28]; P=0.03); less use of azathioprine (OR 0.38 [95% CI 0.13 to 1.03]; P=0.04); and long-term remission (OR 4.96 [95% CI 1.70 to 14.48]; P=0.002).CONCLUSION: Elderly patients with Crohn disease had a mild clinical course characterized by the lack of escalation to immunosuppressive and anti-tumour necrosis factor therapy, as well as long-term remission.