As the incidence of dementia increases, there is a growing need to determine the diagnostic utility of specific neuropsychological tests in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, the relative utility of Boston Naming Test (BNT) in the diagnosis of AD was examined and compared to the diagnostic utility of other neuropsychological measures commonly used in the evaluation of AD. Individuals with AD (n = 306), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI; n = 67), and cognitively normal subjects (n = 409) with at least 2 annual evaluations were included. Logistic regression analysis suggested that initial BNT impairment is associated with increased risk of subsequent AD diagnosis. However, this risk is significantly less than that imparted by measures of delayed recall impairments. A multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis suggested that BNT impairment imparted no additional risk for subsequent AD diagnosis after delayed recall impairments were included in the model. Although BNT impairment occurred in all severity groups, it was ubiquitous only in moderate to severe dementia. Collectively these results suggest that although BNT impairments become more common as AD progresses, they are neither necessary for the diagnosis of AD nor particularly useful in identifying early AD.