The apolipoprotein E (APOE, gene; apoE, protein) isoforms are associated with differential risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). An additional involvement of APOE promoter polymorphisms in AD risk has recently been suggested by several studies. Indeed, three polymorphisms of the APOE regulatory region (-219 G/T, -427 C/T and -491 A/T) have been found associated with AD even after adjustment on the apoE status. We analysed these three promoter region polymorphisms in a large French case-control study (388 AD cases and 386 controls). We found that the -427 T and -491 A alleles were associated with an increased risk of developing AD, but not the -219 G/T alleles. However, a strong linkage disequilibrium was observed between the alleles of these promoter region polymorphisms and the APOE coding region alleles. We therefore retested association after adjustment on apoE status and found that the sole association which remained significant was the association with the -427 T allele. The alpha level was equal to 0.03 (0.09 after Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons). Analysis of promoter haplotypes also yielded non-significant results. Thus our study does not reinforce the hypothesis of an independent involvement of the APOE promoter region polymorphisms in AD risk.