Stress is a potentially remediable risk factor for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Our objective is to determine whether perceived stress predicts incident aMCI and to determine if the influence of stress on aMCI is independent of known aMCI risk factors, particularly demographic variables, depression, and apolipoprotein genotype. The Einstein Aging Study is a longitudinal community-based study of older adults. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) was administered annually in the Einstein Aging Study to participants (N=507; 71 developed incident aMCI; mean follow-up time=3.6 y, SD=2.0) who were aged 70 years and older, free of aMCI and dementia at baseline PSS administration, and had at least 1 subsequent annual follow-up. Cox hazard models were used to examine time to aMCI onset adjusting for covariates. High levels of perceived stress are associated with a 30% greater risk of incident aMCI (per 5-point increase in PSS: hazard ratio=1.30; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-1.58) independent of covariates. The consistency of results after covariate adjustment and the lack of evidence for reverse causation in longitudinal analyses suggest that these findings are robust. Understanding of the effect of perceived stress on cognition may lead to intervention strategies that prevent the onset of aMCI and Alzheimer dementia.