The primary purpose of the present study was to develop a reliable and valid rating instrument for assessing treatment efficacy for behavioral problems in the cognitively impaired elderly. The Behavioral and Emotional Activities Manifested in Dementia (BEAM-D) Scale was developed for the operational assessment of troublesome and disruptive behaviors in dementia. Each behavioral category of the BEAM-D was clinically considered to be a significant deviation from normative behavior for the geriatric dementia patient. The reliability and validity of the BEAM-D was assessed in a group of 45 patients diagnosed with primary degenerative dementia. The mean interrater reliability of BEAM-D items was 0.90. Concurrent validity was established by comparison with currently used rating scales, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and the Sandoz Clinical Assessment-Geriatric (SCAG). Stepwise regression analysis revealed that the items of the BEAM-D had a strong relationship with conceptually similar behavioral dimensions on the BPRS and SCAG.