Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is characterized by widespread depositions of alpha-synuclein, which are described as Lewy bodies. Recently, it was shown that neuronal cells in culture constitutively release alpha-synuclein into the culture medium and that alpha-synuclein is normally present in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The aim of the present study was to evaluate the diagnostic value of CSF alpha-synuclein levels in discriminating DLB from Alzheimer's disease (AD). Alpha-synuclein was measured in CSF from 16 patients with DLB and 21 patients with AD. Iodine-123 metaiodobenzylguanidine cardiac scintigraphy was also performed to assess Lewy body pathology. CSF alpha-synuclein levels did not differ significantly between DLB and AD patients. However, the duration of illness was associated with lower alpha-synuclein levels (p<0.05) in DLB, while no such association was found in AD. The present data show CSF alpha-synuclein levels are not sensitive diagnostic markers to discriminate DLB from AD. However, the lower alpha-synuclein levels in DLB patients with longer duration suggest a reduction in CSF alpha-synuclein in association with increased severity of alpha-synucleinopathy in the brain.