Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the second commonest cause of neurodegenerative dementia in older people. It is part of the range of clinical presentations that share a neuritic pathology based on abnormal aggregation of the synaptic protein alpha-synuclein. DLB has many of the clinical and pathological characteristics of the dementia that occurs during the course of Parkinson's disease. Here we review the current state of scientific knowledge on DLB. Accurate identification of patients is important because they have specific symptoms, impairments, and functional disabilities that differ from those of other common types of dementia. Severe neuroleptic sensitivity reactions are associated with significantly increased morbidity and mortality. Treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors is well tolerated by most patients and substantially improves cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms. Clear guidance on the management of DLB is urgently needed. Virtually unrecognised 20 years ago, DLB could within this decade be one of the most treatable neurodegenerative disorders of late life.