In two experiments, we examined the effect of selective attention at encoding on repetition priming in normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients for objects presented visually (experiment 1) or haptically (experiment 2). We used a repetition priming paradigm combined with a selective attention procedure at encoding. Reliable priming was found for both young adults and healthy older participants for visually presented pictures (experiment 1) as well as for haptically presented objects (experiment 2). However, this was only found for attended and not for unattended stimuli. The results suggest that independently of the perceptual modality, repetition priming requires attention at encoding and that perceptual facilitation is maintained in normal aging. However, AD patients did not show priming for attended stimuli, or for unattended visual or haptic objects. These findings suggest an early deficit of selective attention in AD. Results are discussed from a cognitive neuroscience approach.