Four patients are described, in whom a profound and rapidly progressive dementia occurred in association with clinical features of motor neuron disease. The pattern of dementia indicated impaired frontal lobe function, confirmed by reduced tracer uptake in the frontal lobes on single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Pathological examination of the brains of two patients revealed frontal-lobe atrophy, with mild gliosis and spongiform change. The spinal cord changes were consistent with motor neuron disease. The clinical picture and pathological findings resembled those of dementia of frontal-lobe type and were distinct from those of Alzheimer's disease. The findings have implications for the understanding of the spectrum of non-Alzheimer forms of primary degenerative dementia.