Researchers disagree as to whether Lewy body disease (LBD) constitutes a variant of Alzheimer's (AD) or Parkinson's disease (PD), or alternatively, whether it is an independent disease process. The neuropathological, genetic, and clinical characteristics of LBD are reviewed and compared to those of AD and PD. Data for 150 cases of LBD reported in the literature were compiled and grouped according to neuropathological status. Patients with pure LBD (with limited or no concurrent AD pathology) tend to present at a younger age with extrapyramidal signs followed by dementia, whereas patients with mixed LBD-AD (concurrent LB and AD pathology) are somewhat older and tend to present with dementia. The cognitive profile of LBD patients, and the relationships among LBD, AD, and PD remain unclear due to methodological limitations and the paucity of studies comparing the groups directly.