The pathologic changes in dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT) commonly affect selected brain regions. The cortical areas affected in multi-infarct dementia (MID) are less predictable and may be secondary to subcortical gray or white matter damage that is widespread in MID. We compared several types of quantitative EEG power measures (absolute and relative power, and ratios of power) to determine their regional distribution, and their association with changes in cognitive status and age. We examined 49 subjects with clinically diagnosed mild-to-moderate DAT, 29 with mild-to-moderate MID, and 38 elderly controls (CON). We used discriminant analysis to identify, for each parameter type, the brain region and frequency band where the parameter best distinguished between groups of subjects. The parameters showed regional differences in distinguishing between DAT and MID subjects, and in their association with age and cognitive status. All parameters were useful for detecting differences between normal and demented subjects and correctly identified comparable proportions of subjects as having dementia. Subjects who were abnormal on several parameters were much more likely to have dementia. The additive effects of these parameters in correct classification suggest that they may be monitoring different physiologic processes. Combinations of several types of parameters may be more useful than individual parameters for distinguishing demented from non-demented subjects.