We have reviewed the clinical and pathological records of 40 aged patients who showed only vascular lesions on histological examination. They were followed up for 3.5 +/- 6.3 years before death, and in 28 cases the diagnosis of dementia was done during life. Demographic data, vascular and systemic illnesses, psychiatric neurological and neuropsychological disturbances, and pathological findings were compared between demented and non-demented patients. The number of strokes, several neurological and almost all neuropsychological disturbances, the volume of macroscopic cerebral infarct, especially in frontal, occipital and basal regions, the lacunar state and the white matter lesions, were significantly greater in demented patients. However most of them had less than 100 ml3 of brain infarct. The relative influence of each type of cerebral vascular lesion upon the dementia syndrome was determined by means of multivariate analysis. The volume of macroscopic cerebral infarct, the white matter lesion and the lacunar state showed quite similar contributions to mental deterioration.