Ageing is accompanied by many visible characteristics. Other biological and physiological markers are also well-described e.g. loss of circulating sex hormones and increased inflammatory cytokines. Biomarkers for healthy ageing studies are presently predicated on existing knowledge of ageing traits. The increasing availability of data-intensive methods enables deep-analysis of biological samples for novel biomarkers. We have adopted two discrete approaches in MARK-AGE Work Package 7 for biomarker discovery; (1) microarray analyses and/or proteomics in cell systems e.g. endothelial progenitor cells or T cell ageing including a stress model; and (2) investigation of cellular material and plasma directly from tightly-defined proband subsets of different ages using proteomic, transcriptomic and miR array. The first approach provided longitudinal insight into endothelial progenitor and T cell ageing. This review describes the strategy and use of hypothesis-free, data-intensive approaches to explore cellular proteins, miR, mRNA and plasma proteins as healthy ageing biomarkers, using ageing models and directly within samples from adults of different ages. It considers the challenges associated with integrating multiple models and pilot studies as rational biomarkers for a large cohort study. From this approach, a number of high-throughput methods were developed to evaluate novel, putative biomarkers of ageing in the MARK-AGE cohort.