Among the changes that typify Alzheimer's disease (AD) are neuroinflammation and microglial activation, amyloid deposition perhaps resulting from compromised microglial function and iron accumulation. Data from Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) identified a number of gene variants that endow a significant risk of developing AD and several of these encode proteins expressed in microglia and proteins that are implicated in the immune response. This suggests that neuroinflammation and the accompanying microglial activation are likely to contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. The trigger(s) leading to these changes remain to be identified. In this study, we set out to examine the link between the inflammatory, metabolic and iron-retentive signature of microglia in vitro and in transgenic mice that overexpress the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and presenilin 1 (PS1; APP/PS1 mice), a commonly used animal model of AD. Stimulation of cultured microglia with interferon (IFN)γ and amyloid-β (Aβ) induced an inflammatory phenotype and switched the metabolic profile and iron handling of microglia so that the cells became glycolytic and iron retentive, and the phagocytic and chemotactic function of the cells was reduced. Analysis of APP/PS1 mice by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed genotype-related hypointense areas in the hippocampus consistent with iron deposition, and immunohistochemical analysis indicated that the iron accumulated in microglia, particularly in microglia that decorated Aβ deposits. Isolated microglia prepared from APP/PS1 mice were characterized by a switch to a glycolytic and iron-retentive phenotype and phagocytosis of Aβ was reduced in these cells. This evidence suggests that the switch to glycolysis in microglia may kick-start a cascade of events that ultimately leads to microglial dysfunction and Aβ accumulation. © 2019 International Society of Neuropathology.