Abstract Accurately measuring the cortical mean diffusivity (MD) derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) at the comprehensive lobe, gyral and voxel level of young, elderly healthy brains and those with Alzheimer's disease (AD) may provide insights on heterogeneous cortical microstructural changes caused by aging and AD. Due to partial volume effects (PVE), the measurement of cortical MD is overestimated with contamination of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The bias is especially severe for aging and AD brains because of significant cortical thinning of these brains. In this study, we aimed to quantitatively characterize the unbiased regional cortical MD changes due to aging and AD and delineate the effects of cortical thinning of elderly healthy and AD groups on MD measurements. DTI and T1-weighted images of 14 young, 15 elderly healthy subjects and 17 AD patients were acquired. With the parcellated cortical gyri and lobes from T1 weighted image transformed to DTI, regional cortical MD of all subjects before and after PVE correction were measured. CSF contamination model was used to correct bias of MD caused by PVE. Compared to cortical MD of young group, significant increases of corrected MD for elderly healthy and AD groups were found only in frontal and limbic regions, respectively, while there were significant increases of uncorrected MD all over the cortex. Uncorrected MD are significantly higher in limbic and temporal gyri in AD group, compared to those in elderly healthy group but higher MD only remained in limbic gyri after PVE correction. Cortical thickness was also measured for all groups. The correlation slopes between cortical MD and thickness for elderly healthy and AD groups were significantly decreased after PVE correction compared to before correction while no significant change of correlation slope was detected for young group. It suggests that the cortical thinning in elderly healthy and AD groups is a significant contributor to the bias of uncorrected cortical MD measurement. The established comprehensive unbiased cortical MD profiles of young, elderly healthy subjects and AD patients at the lobe, gyral and voxel level may serve as clinical references for cortical microstructure.