Recent studies of Alzheimer's disease patients have demonstrated (a) marked structural and biochemical alterations in brain regions associated with olfactory function (including the olfactory bulb and entorhinal cortex) and (b) decrements in the ability to identify odorants. In light of such findings, we administered the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) and a forced-choice phenyl ethyl alcohol odor detection threshold test to a relatively large number of patients diagnosed, on the basis of stringent criteria, as having mild to moderately severe Alzheimer's disease. Compared to age-, gender-, and race-matched normal controls, these individuals evidenced consistent and marked decrements on both types of olfactory tests (ps less than 0.001). Surprisingly few of the patients were aware of their disorder, despite its appearance early in the disease process. These findings indicate that both odor identification and odor detection problems are present in dementia of the Alzheimer's type, and raise the possibility that the odor identification problem may be secondary to the odor detection problem.