Cerebral amyloid angiopathy is caused by deposition of the amyloid beta protein in the cerebral vasculature. In analogy to previous observations in Alzheimer disease, we hypothesized that analysis of amyloid beta(40) and beta(42) proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid might serve as a molecular biomarker. We observed strongly decreased cerebrospinal fluid amyloid beta(40) (p < 0.01 vs controls or Alzheimer disease) and amyloid beta(42) concentrations (p < 0.001 vs controls and p < 0.05 vs Alzheimer disease) in cerebral amyloid angiopathy patients. The combination of amyloid beta(42) and total tau discriminated cerebral amyloid angiopathy from controls, with an area under the receiver operator curve of 0.98. Our data are consistent with neuropathological evidence that amyloid beta(40) as well as amyloid beta(42) protein are selectively trapped in the cerebral vasculature from interstitial fluid drainage pathways that otherwise transport amyloid beta proteins toward the cerebrospinal fluid.