An olfactory deficit is present in patients with essential tremor (ET), but it is often milder than that in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). In both, the deficit occurs early in the disease. Isolated rest tremor without other signs of parkinsonism can occur in patients with ET. If the rest tremor in these patients represents a manifestation of ET rather than early PD, we hypothesized that their University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) scores would be similar to those of ET patients without rest tremor. The mean UPSIT score in 13 ET patients with isolated rest tremor did not differ from that of 58 ET patients without rest tremor (29.3 +/- 4.3 vs. 29.4 +/- 6.4; P = 0.69). Several ET patients with rest tremor had UPSIT scores that fell outside of the range that is seen in 95% of patients with PD. These data raise the possibility that some ET patients with isolated rest tremor may not have early PD and that the pathological process that is responsible for their ET is also involving the basal ganglia.