To investigate changes in the somatostatinergic neurons of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), we determined the somatostatin-like immunoreactivity (SLI) in post-mortem brain tissue of histopathologically confirmed AD patients and in CSF of probable AD patients (according to DSM III). The CSF values were then correlated with psychological test scores. In 6 AD patients the SLI values were decreased 42% (P less than 0.005) in the frontal cortex, 28% (P less than 0.05) in the temporal cortex and 42% (P less than 0.01) in the parietal cortex but not in the thalamus and putamen compared to 11 control patients. In some brain areas there were statistical correlations between SLI values and cholinergic markers, choline acetyltransferase and acetylcholine esterase activities, suggesting a relationship between these two neurotransmitter systems. In the CSF among 75 AD patients SLI was 35% lower (P less than 0.001) than in controls. Severely demented power (P less than 0.001) than in controls. Severely demented patients showed lower SLI values than moderately demented individuals, but this difference was not significant. There was a weak but statistically significant correlation between SLI values in CSF and neuropsychological test scores. This study further confirms the involvement of somatostatinergic neurons in AD and suggests that this involvement may be related to the progression of dementia symptoms.