It has been suggested that the Mini-Mental State examination can be used to examine a patient's cognitive profile. We therefore examined the validity of Mini-Mental State subtests and individual items. The memory item, attention-concentration items, and constructional item had satisfactory sensitivity-specificity and correlated significantly with scores on neuropsychological tests. In contrast, four of the five Mini-Mental State language items had very low sensitivity, and three of five failed to correlate with neuropsychological test scores. These findings establish limits with regard to the ability of the Mini-Mental State to generate a cognitive profile. Our data also provide information regarding validity, difficulty level, and optimal cutoff scores for widely used mental status tasks.