The authors performed quantitation of the temporal lobes using magnetic resonance imaging in 20 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease, 20 age-matched aged control subjects, and 26 healthy young volunteers. Compared to young subjects, aged controls showed volume reductions in amygdala (17%, p = 0.02), hippocampus (15%, p = 0.0001) and temporal lobe (22%, p = 0.0001). Compared to aged controls, Alzheimer's subjects showed further volume reductions in amygdala (33%, p = 0.0001) and hippocampus (20%, p = 0.006) but not temporal lobe (7%, p = 0.15). In Alzheimer's subjects, left temporal lobe volume correlated strongly with the Mini Mental State (MMSE) score (adjusted r2 = 0.46, p = 0.0006) whereas right amygdala volume correlated inversely with the noncognitive ADAS score (adjusted r2 = 0.46, p = 0.0006). The authors conclude that significant volume changes occur in the temporal lobe in aging and in Alzheimer's disease, with the greatest percentage reductions in the amygdala in Alzheimer's disease. Temporal neocortical atrophy and temporal limbic atrophy might be associated with different patterns of performance and behavior in Alzheimer's patients.