The Neuropathology Task Force of the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD) has developed a practical and standardized neuropathology protocol for the postmortem assessment of dementia and control subjects. The protocol provides neuropathologic definitions of such terms as "definite Alzheimer's disease" (AD), "probable AD," "possible AD," and "normal brain" to indicate levels of diagnostic certainty, reduce subjective interpretation, and assure common language. To pretest the protocol, neuropathologists from 15 participating centers entered information on autopsy brains from 142 demented patients clinically diagnosed as probable AD and on eight nondemented patients. Eighty-four percent of the dementia cases fulfilled CERAD neuropathologic criteria for definite AD. As increasingly large numbers of prospectively studied dementia and control subjects are autopsied, the CERAD neuropathology protocol will help to refine diagnostic criteria, assess overlapping pathology, and lead to a better understanding of early subclinical changes of AD and normal aging.