Much evidence indicates that abnormal processing and extracellular deposition of amyloid-beta peptide (A beta), a proteolytic derivative of the beta-amyloid precursor protein (betaAPP), is central to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (reviewed in ref. 1). In the PDAPP transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, immunization with A beta causes a marked reduction in burden of the brain amyloid. Evidence that A beta immunization also reduces cognitive dysfunction in murine models of Alzheimer's disease would support the hypothesis that abnormal A beta processing is essential to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, and would encourage the development of other strategies directed at the 'amyloid cascade'. Here we show that A beta immunization reduces both deposition of cerebral fibrillar A beta and cognitive dysfunction in the TgCRND8 murine model of Alzheimer's disease without, however, altering total levels of A beta in the brain. This implies that either a approximately 50% reduction in dense-cored A beta plaques is sufficient to affect cognition, or that vaccination may modulate the activity/abundance of a small subpopulation of especially toxic A beta species.