High levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), a serum marker of congestive heart failure, are associated with an increased risk for cognitive decline. However, no study has yet assessed this marker in different subtypes of dementia. We tested the hypothesis that BNP has a more significant association with vascular dementia than Alzheimer disease. Plasma BNP was measured in 15 patients with subcortical vascular dementia, in 19 Alzheimer patients without evidence of vascular comorbidity, and in age-matched controls. Compared with controls (28±7 ng/l), BNP was elevated in subcortical vascular dementia (63±17 ng/l; P=0.03), but not in Alzheimer disease (36±5 ng/l). In conclusion, subcortical vascular dementia is indeed associated with moderately elevated BNP levels, whereas this could not be shown for Alzheimer disease. This probably reflects the larger cardiovascular burden in patients with subcortical vascular dementia.