The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between dementia and common vascular risk factors including blood pressure, blood lipids, homocysteine and diabetes mellitus in a population of very old people. This study is a 9-year follow-up prospective population-based study monitoring 339 non-demented subjects aged 85 years or over in the city of Vantaa, Southern Finland. During the follow-up, those individuals with diabetes mellitus at the baseline and new incident stroke had a higher probability for developing dementia. History of hypertension or higher level of education were associated with a lower probability of dementia. It seems that the contribution of vascular risk factors to the risk of dementia may be age-dependent and their role in the very old subjects may be mediated through their influence on cerebrovascular morbidity. Thus, prevention of stroke and diabetes mellitus may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the very old.