A comparison of cognitive function was made among patients with Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, and cortical dementia. Utilizing indexes from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and the Halstead–Reitan Battery, it was found that there was substantially more severe cognitive deficit in the Huntington's disease patients than in the multiple sclerosis patients, and the level of impairment was similar between the Huntington's disease and cortical dementia groups. Qualitative differences, particularly involving amount and type of perseveration, were noted among the three groups. It was concluded that subcortical dementia is not necessarily characterized by mild cognitive impairment, and there appear to be important qualitative differences between cortical and subcortical dementia. Results are discussed in terms of the usefulness of the presently conceptualized distinction between cortical and subcortical dementia.