Immunoreactivities of total apolipoprotein E (ApoE-IR), amyloid beta peptide(1-42) (Abeta42-IR), interleukin-6 (IL-6-IR), substance P (SPIR) and total tau protein (TTIR) were measured in lumbar cerebrospinal fluid samples of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), non-Alzheimer's dementias (NAD), neurological disorders without cognitive impairment (OND) and controls without central nervous system disease using sensitive and specific enzyme immunoassay methods. TTIR was highly significantly increased (P < 0,001) and Abeta42-IR was significantly decreased (P < 0,001 vs. OND/CO, P < 0,03 vs. NAD) in the AD cohort compared with the other diagnostic groups. Significant increases in AD were also found for ApoE-IR (P < 0,001) and IL-6 (P < 0,03), but there was a considerable overlap between groups. In the total AD cohort, SPIR was not significantly changed, but AD patients with late disease onset (>65 years) showed significantly higher values than both early onset patients (<65 years) and controls (P < 0,05). Discriminant function analysis showed that Abeta42-IR (cut-off value 375pg/ml) and TTIR (cut-off value 440 pg/ml) levels contributed most to the group classification of patients. At 85% sensitivity for AD and 100% specificity for controls, the combined evaluation of Abeta42-IR and TTIR in this cross-sectional study resulted in a graph separating AD from non-AD patients with increased specificity of 91% and 75% for AD versus OND and NAD, respectively.