IGF-1 decline has been related to age-dependent cognitive impairment and dementia. No study examined IGF-1 levels in subjects with a risk factor for brain damage such as hypertension. We investigated the relationship between IGF-1, cognitive functioning and neuroimaging in a sample of 75 hypertensive elderly subjects aged > 65. Cognitive performance were tested by mini mental state examination (MMSE), Cambridge cognitive examination (CAMDEX-R), and the frontal assessment battery (FAB). Among other indices, free IGF-1 in serum was assayed. The radial width of the temporal horn (rWTH) evaluates medial cerebral temporal lobe atrophy. Significant correlations between IGF-1 levels and both total and sub-domain scores of cognition were found. IGF-1 level was significantly lower in cognitively declined group. The lowest IGF-1 -percentile subgroup was significantly cognitively impaired. A statistically non-significant, but lower IGF-1 level was found in the sub-sample with pathologically wider rWTH. Levels of IGF-1 below 79.4 microg/l are associated with cognitive decline, whereas a level above 118 microg/l seems to be a marker of normal cognitive performance. A decreasing of IGF-1 related to a widening of the rWTH suggests an involvement of this hormone in hippocampus atrophy.