In this clinical study the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) level of a novel form of the beta-amyloid peptide (A beta) extending to position 42 (A beta 42) was determined in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) as well as controls. In addition to measurement of CSF A beta 42 levels, total A beta peptides, microtubule-associated protein tau, and apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype were also assessed. It is interesting that CSF A beta 42 levels were found to be significantly lower in AD patients relative to controls, whereas total A beta levels were not. A beta 42 has recently been shown to preferentially deposit in the brain tissue of patients with AD, suggesting that diminished clearance may account for its reduction in CSF. As previously reported, tau levels were increased in AD patients; however, neither A beta 42 nor tau levels were apparently influenced by the ApoE genotype.