The aims of this study were to determine the influence of the onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD) on 1) memory and cerebral glucose metabolism, 2) the relationships between cognitive performance and cerebral glucose metabolism. Brain metabolism was measured by 18FDG-PET in 12 early onset AD patients (age < 65 years) and 26 late onset ones (> 65), with comparable mean MMSE scores. Working memory, semantic memory and episodic memory were assessed. Cognitivo-metabolic correlations (CMC) and complementary interregional correlations were performed in order to identify specific neurocognitive processes within each group. Both AD groups performed poorly on all tasks, except digit span in the late onset group. The early onset group performed more poorly than the late onset one on both the digit span and Brown-Peterson Paradigm (BPP) tasks. Temporo-parietal hypometabolism was found in both groups, the left hemisphere being more affected than the right, especially in the early onset patients, who also showed specific left frontal hypometabolism. For the BPP task, the CMC principally involved left frontal areas in the early onset group, and the cerebellum in the late onset one. For the digit span task, they involved cerebellar and occipital regions in the latter. Regarding the digit span, the occipital and cerebellar involvement may have reflected an effective compensatory mechanism in the late onset patients, while high left supramarginal gyrus hypometabolism in the early onset patients may have explained their failure in this task. In the BPP task, the lower performance of the early onset group may have been due to a frontal lobe dysfunction, as suggested by 1) the hypometabolism of this region, 2) the CMC results, 3) the interregional correlations, which indicated greater disruption of the antero- posterior loop.