Primary prevention will become increasingly important as dementia prevalence increases and effective retardive therapies are developed. To date, only one randomized controlled trial (involving treatment of systolic hypertension) has demonstrated that the incidence of dementia can be reduced. Physicians should remain alert to possible secondary causes of dementia and correct these whenever possible. Primary and secondary prevention of stroke should reduce dementia related to cerebrovascular disease either directly or as a comorbid factor in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Epidemiological studies have revealed a number of risk factors for AD including genetic mutation, susceptibility genes, positive family history, Down’s syndrome, age, sex, years of education, head trauma and neurotoxins. In case-control studies non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and estrogen replacement therapy appear to decrease the relative risk of developing AD. Further research to develop and test preventative therapies in AD and other dementias should be strongly encouraged.