National policy in England is to encourage referral of people with suspected dementia to Memory Assessment Services (MAS). However, little is known about the characteristics of new referrals, which limits our capacity to evaluate these services. The objectives were to: describe the characteristics (age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic deprivation, and comorbidity) of referred patients, and examine the relationships between these characteristics and cognitive function (tertiles of Mini-Mental State Examination score) and health-related quality of life (HRQL) (DEMQOL, DEMQOL-Proxy). We used multivariable regression methods to analyze data from 1420 patients from 73 MAS, and their lay carers (n=1020). The mean age of patients was 78 years; 42% had cognitive function equivalent to Mini-Mental State Examination <24. Characteristics associated with lower function were: older age, being female, deprivation, and nonwhite ethnicity. Deprivation and nonwhite ethnicity were also associated with lower self-reported HRQL, as was having multiple comorbidities; older age was associated with better self-reported HRQL. Lower proxy-reported HRQL was associated with being female, deprivation and comorbidities, but not age and ethnicity. A large proportion of study participants had moderate or high cognitive function scores, suggesting that these patients were referred early to MAS. Research is needed to identify why apparent sociodemographic inequalities in use of MAS exist.