The relationship of sleep-disordered breathing (SOB) to neuropsychological deficits was investigated with cross-sectional data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, a population-based study of the natural history of SDB. A sample of 841 employed men and women ages 30 to 60 yr was studied by overnight polysomnography to assess the frequency of apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep (apnea-hypopnea index, AHI). Prior to overnight polysomnography, the participants were given a battery of neuropsychological tests for functionally important capacities including motor skills, attention, concentration, information processing, and memory. Principal factor analysis of all the neuro-psychological test data revealed a psychomotor efficiency and a memory factor. Multiple regression analysis showed a significant negative association between logarithmically transformed AHI (LogAHI) and psychomotor efficiency score independent of age, gender, and educational status (p = 0.017). The relationship was not explained by self-reported sleepiness. No significant relationship was seen between LogAHI and memory score. In assessing the clinical significance of mild SDB, we estimate that an AHI of 15 is equivalent to the decrement in psychomotor efficiency associated with 5 additional yr of age, or to 50% of the decrement associated with hypnosedative use.