A placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of pentoxifylline in 80 patients with symptoms of vascular dementia. Efficacy was assessed using neuropsychologic tests. With regard to the primary efficacy criteria, absolute changes in the active treatment group were more pronounced in both the protocol and endpoint analysis than in the placebo group. Compared with the placebo group, differences were statistically significant for the active treatment group. Similar changes were reported in a post-hoc defined subgroup of patients displaying "stepwise deterioration," an essential criterion of multi-infarct dementia (MID). Medication was generally well-tolerated. The present study shows that pentoxifylline is suitable for the symptomatic treatment of vascular dementia.