Blood donors of the Madrid area show a 6% frequency of apolipoprotein E genotype carrying allele epsilon 4. This frequency is smaller than other populations of Caucasian origin. This proportion decreases to 4% in a selected sample of healthy individuals of ages > 60 years. The frequency (34%) of the allele epsilon 4 was significantly increased in patients of late onset Alzheimer's disease, similarly to other populations. An earlier age of onset of the dementia is observed in the patients of late-onset Alzheimer's disease carrying the allele epsilon 4. No increased frequency in allele epsilon 4 frequency was found in patients of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Patients of Parkinson's disease do not show any differences in the frequency of the alleles of apolipoprotein E when compared with healthy individuals.