Pathological criteria have recently been developed to differentiate those cases where Lewy bodies contribute to the dementing process. We applied consensus criteria to 20 cases with a pathological diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (all demented) and/or Parkinson's disease (three without dementia) and eight controls. In addition, we applied the criteria to the different cortical layers to determine whether the site of the semiquantification affected the diagnosis. In the parietal lobe, few Lewy bodies were observed, and this region could be excluded. Rare Lewy bodies present in the frontal association cortex in a number of Parkinson's disease cases resulted in their classification as limbic or transitional cases with Lewy bodies. Exclusion of this non-limbic association cortex resulted in many of these cases with rare cortical Lewy bodies being re-classified as having brain stem predominant Lewy bodies, thus improving the diagnostic accuracy of the criteria. Most of these cases were non-demented. No other case was re-classified by excluding these cortical regions from the analysis. Few Lewy bodies were present in cortical layers I and II, and these layers could be excluded from the semiquantitative procedure without change to the overall classification of cases. The occasional presence of possible Lewy bodies in cases with Alzheimer's disease and controls incorrectly classified these cases as having brain stem predominant Lewy body disease, although these cases had no brain stem Lewy bodies. These modifications to the consensus criteria for assessing Lewy body disease (i.e. exclude parietal and frontal lobe, cortical layers I and II, and cases without brain stem Lewy bodies), provide significant time and cost savings for neuropathologists and researchers using this criteria to diagnose and study dementia with Lewy bodies.