In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, randomized clinical trial, we studied the efficacy of long-term (1-year) oral treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine in 130 patients with a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. We employed 14 outcome measures to assess functional and cognitive impairment. After 1 year, both the treated and placebo groups worsened, but the treated group showed a slower rate of deterioration in 13 of the 14 outcome measures, reaching statistical significance for the Blessed Dementia Scale, logical intelligence, ideomotor and buccofacial apraxia, and selective attention. Adjusting for initial scores with analysis of covariance, the treated group showed better scores on all outcome measures, reaching statistical significance for the Blessed Dementia Scale, logical intelligence, verbal critical abilities, long-term verbal memory, and selective attention. The analysis for patients with good treatment compliance showed a greater drug benefit than for the overall sample. Reported adverse events were relatively mild, and there was no significant difference between the treated and placebo groups either in incidence or severity.