Previous studies have suggested that noninsulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) could lead to learning and memory deficits. We studied cognitive performance and computed tomography (CT) findings of the brain in elderly subjects with drug treated NIDDM (n = 12), with diet treated NIDDM (n = 13), and in nondiabetic individuals (ND, n = 59). The cognitive performance (orientation and up-to-date knowledge, praxic functions, understanding of speech, expressive speech, memory, general reasoning) did not differ between the groups. The drug treated diabetics had more pronounced central temporal atrophy compared to that in the ND subjects as evidenced by wider right temporal horn (ANCOVA adjusted for age, p = 0.011). The drug treated diabetics (all women) also had wider frontal horns than did the ND women. The CT measures of diet treated diabetics were comparable with those of the ND group. The fasting glucose level was positively correlated with the width of the right temporal horn but not with other CT measures in diabetic subjects. The results suggest that NIDDM and poor glucose control may carry a risk for accelerated brain atrophy in the elderly.