If depression is associated with apathy, then they should be expressed together in different dementia syndromes and should co-occur at varying levels of disease severity. The authors performed a cross-sectional comparison of neuropsychiatric symptoms in 30 Alzheimer's disease, 28 frontotemporal dementia, 40 Parkinson's disease, 34 Huntington's disease, and 22 progressive supranuclear palsy patients, using a standardized rating scale (the Neuropsychiatric Inventory). Apathy did not correlate with depression in the combined sample; apathy (r = -0.40, P < 0.0001), but not depression, correlated with lower cognitive function as measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination. The relationship of apathy to depression also varied across diagnostic groups. Apathy is a specific neuropsychiatric syndrome that is distinct from depression. Distinguishing these two syndromes has therapeutic implications.