The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is widely used to detect dementia, but the diagnosis of dementia also depends on a decline in the level of daily functioning. Little is known about the relationship between performance on the MMSE and daily living abilities. This relationship was investigated in this study of an elderly population by comparing scores on the MMSE with those on both a direct assessment of everyday tasks and an indirect questionnaire about activities of daily living and physical self-maintenance. Forty-five subjects with varying mental abilities participated in the study. A significant correlation was found between MMSE scores and the measures of functional abilities; but the specificity and sensitivity to the diagnosis of dementia would be increased by assessing functional status, even indirectly, as well as cognitive ability. (J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol 1989;2:96-100).