The magnitude of the problems faced by an aging Canadian society has been clearly identified. Perhaps the single most important problem is the increasing incidence of dementia. Alzheimer's disease (AD) accounts for 50-60% of the dementias in later life within a spectrum of other contributing dementias. Regulatory approval has been given to Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors for the symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate AD, and conditional approval to memantine for the symptoms of moderate to severe AD. There has been no regulatory approval for the treatment of the degenerative dementias beyond AD. The very rapid progress in the past decade in biotechnology and in the molecular biology of the dementias is supporting a new generation of innovative treatment strategies that will more directly target the underlying disease pathogenic mechanisms. Such treatments will foreseeably include immunotherapies, anti-aggregants that may prevent misfolding and deposition of proteins, and neuroregenerative interventions. These Guidelines follow the 2nd Canadian Conference on the Development of Antidementia Therapies, held in 2004, which covered a range of design, methodological and ethical issues facing clinical researchers and regulatory authorities. They are intended to provide a common point of reference and guidance in Canada for therapeutic development of the dementias.