The usefulness of the multiple-choice word test (MWT-B) was tested as a measure for premorbid intelligence in 107 patients with probable Alzheimer's disease following the NINCDS-ADRDA criteria. The patients were allocated to three groups according to severity of dementia: mild (n = 40), moderate (n = 41) and severe (n = 26). Dementia severity was assessed with the Mini Mental State Test (MMST). The mean of the raw values of the MWT-B (maximum 37) in the group with mild dementia was 28.0 (SD = 5.57), in the group with moderate dementia 23.3 (SD = 8.01), and in the group with severe dementia 6.7 (SD = 8.44), indicating a parallel worsening with the other tests. The MWT-B value of the whole sample correlated with the MMST value (r = 0.70); a significant correlation still existed in patients with mild and moderate dementia. These results confirm that the MWT-B is relevant for dementia. The rate of cerebral glucose metabolism, measured with positron emission tomography (PET) and 18F-fluorodeoxy-glucose (FDG) correlated significantly with the MWT-B scores in the Alzheimer-sensitive temporoparietal region (r = 0.43; P = 0.001) and frontal brain region (r = 0.37; P < 0.05). Whether or not it can be used as a screening measure of dementia will have to be decided on the basis of its scales for sensitivity and specificity.