Relative contributions of two potential pathogenetic factors for cognitive impairments among patients with multi-infarct dementia (MID) are reported. Cognitive test scores were correlated with measures of cerebral hypoperfusion and loss of brain parenchyma. Local cerebral blood flow values were determined utilizing stable xenon contrasted computed tomography and volumes for brain parenchyma were estimated from ratios of volumes of infarcted brain plus cerebrospinal fluid/total intracranial volume measured on the same CT slices among two groups of patients, one with mild and the other with severe MID. A total of 26 demented patients with multiple cerebral infarcts were divided into 2 index groups, one with mild and the other with severe MID (mild MID, CCSE greater than or equal to 15, n = 16; severe MID, CCSE less than 15, n = 10). Results were compared with similar measures among age-matched neurologically normal volunteers (n = 14). Ratios for volumes of lost brain parenchyma were significantly higher among severe MID patients than among age-matched normal volunteers, whereas estimates of brain loss among patients with mild MID did not differ from elderly normal volunteers. In patients with mild MID, LCBF values for cortical gray matter were decreased compared with age-matched normal volunteers. Results suggest that chronic cerebral hypoperfusion is an important determinant for mild dementia among patients in the early stages of MID, but volumes of lost cerebral parenchyma due to cerebral infarctions is an important determinant for advanced stages of MID.