Our studies of the APOE genotype in AD confirm a strong association of the epsilon 4 allele with development of AD and a decreased risk associated with epsilon 2. From a clinical/neuropathological perspective, the major effects of APOE epsilon 4 are to lower the age of onset and to increase the amount of A beta deposit in the brain. Neither rate of progression nor number of neurofibrillary tangles were affected. We also carried out a longitudinal population-based assessment of the APOE genotype to determine the risk for developing cognitive impairment of someone in the general population based on APOE genotype. APOE epsilon 4 carried about 1.4-fold increased risk, and APOE epsilon 2 about 1.7-fold decreased risk. Thus, inheritance of APOE epsilon 4 is a major biological risk factor for AD, but it has limited utility as a prognostic indicator for development of dementia in an individual.