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The foremost impediment to progress in the understanding and treatment of dementia in adults with intellectual disability is the lack of standardized criteria and diagnostic procedures. Standardized criteria for the diagnosis of dementia in individuals with intellectual disability are proposed, and their application is discussed. In addition, procedures for determining whether or not criteria are met in individual cases are outlined. It is the intention of the authors, who were participants of an International Colloquium on Alzheimer Disease and Mental Retardation, that these criteria be appropriate for use by both clinicians and researchers. Their use will improve communication among clinicians and researchers, and will allow researchers to test hypotheses concerning discrepancies in findings among research groups (e.g. dementia prevalence ranges and age of onset).