Older adults have difficulties in identifying most facial expressions of emotion. However, most aging studies have presented static photographs of intense expressions, whereas in everyday experience people see emotions that develop and change. The present study was designed to assess whether age-related difficulties in emotion recognition are reduced when more ecologically valid (i.e., dynamic) stimuli are used. We examined the effect of stimuli format (i.e., static vs. dynamic) on facial affect recognition in two separate studies that included independent samples and distinct stimuli sets. In addition to younger and older participants, a middle-aged group was included in Study 1 and eye gaze patterns were assessed in Study 2. Across both studies, older adults performed worse than younger adults on measures of facial affect recognition. In Study 1, older and-middle aged adults benefited from dynamic stimuli, but only when the emotional displays were subtle. Younger adults gazed more at the eye region of the face relative to older adults (Study 2), but dynamic presentation increased attention towards the eye region for younger adults only. Together, these studies provide important and novel insights into the specific circumstances in which older adults may be expected to experience difficulties in perceiving facial emotions.