Thirty patients with degenerative dementia underwent clinical evaluation, neuropsychological testing, and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with the blood flow tracer [123I]-N-isopropyl-p-iodoamphetamine. Five of these patients were clinically and psychologically different from the others, demonstrating predominant behavioral disturbances with relative preservation of memory function. These five patients, who were felt to have a frontal lobe dementia (FLD), showed SPECT perfusion patterns which differed from the remaining 25 patients, who were diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease (AD), and from 16 healthy control subjects. The FLD patients showed diminished perfusion in orbitofrontal, dorsolateral frontal, and temporal cortex relative to controls, while the AD patients showed lower perfusion in temporal and parietal cortex than controls. The FLD patients also showed hypoperfusion in both frontal cortical regions relative to AD patients. The pattern of performance on neuropsychological testing paralleled these differences in regional perfusion. These results suggest that clinical evaluation and physiological imaging may enable the differentiation of groups of degenerative dementia patients during life.