The genetic factors which predispose individuals to dementia in old age have not been fully defined. Although the apolipoprotein E4 allele accounts for a proportion of the genetic risk for late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD), it is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause this disease. Recent suggestions that other loci are involved in dementia risk have been supported by findings of associations of genotypes at the alpha-1 antichymotrypsin (ACT) and presenilin-1 (PS-1) loci with AD. We investigated these loci in two community-based aged Cambridgeshire populations: the rural Ely population (cohort 1) comprised 60 pairs of demented and nondemented elderly individuals, with a mean age of 84.2 years; and the Cambridge city population (cohort 2) comprised 81 pairs all over age 84, with a mean age of 87.3 years. Since vascular risk factors are likely to impact on dementia risk, we also examined the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genes as candidates. ACE, ACT, PS-1, and MTHFR genotype and allele frequencies were not significantly different in cases and matched controls. These data support the doubts which have been raised about the involvement of the PS-1 and ACT polymorphisms in late-onset dementia.