No previous comparison of test performance in probable Alzheimer's disease (pAD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) dementia has provided information about potential differences in the dementing process. This study compared the evolution of cognitive changes associated with these dementias. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) applied to regression analyses with repeated measures were used to evaluate cognitive changes over 1 to 3 years prior to the point when dementia was diagnosed in 40 matched pairs of patients with incident pAD and PD dementia. Both groups' performance declined on the Short Blessed, Selective Reminding Test (SRT; total recall, long-term retrieval, and delayed recall), Boston Naming Test, Category Fluency, and Similarities. The decline on naming and SRT delayed recall was more rapid in the PD dementia group, suggesting that these performance deficits emerge earlier in the development of pAD. The PD dementia group performed worse on Category Fluency throughout the follow-up period, suggesting either that dementia is overlaid on this preexisting performance deficit or that this type of executive deficit is an early manifestation of dementia in PD. The pAD group performed more poorly throughout the follow-up period on SRT delayed recognition, consistent with a pAD-specific encoding deficit. We conclude that while pAD and PD dementia are similar in many respects, differences in their evolution support previous observation of unique features in the 2 dementias and suggest different underlying pathologies.