The clinical significance of white matter abnormalities seen in brain imaging studies, termed leuko-araiosis (LA), still remains uncertain. Leuko-araiosis has been associated with a global decline in cognitive performance, although little is known about the cognitive functions that LA may account for. We present the correlates between LA severity on magnetic resonance imaging and mental deterioration in a selected sample of 41 elderly patients with vascular risk factors. We found that LA was related to performance on tasks measuring the speed of information processing and, in particular, on those that involve complex processes. This impairment can be important in producing reduction in daily living activities as it is in the support to the relationship found with some commonly used behavioral rating scales. Leuko-araiosis is also related to the presence of some primitive reflexes, suggesting that their disinhibition may be due to diffuse corticofugal fibers damage.