This paper examined whether education-, age-, and gender-matched Spanish- and English-speaking normals (n30 pairs) had comparable scores on the Mattis dementia rating scale (MDRS). It provides preliminary normative data on Spanish-speaking volunteers aged 55–89 years old (n54). It also compared the MDRS total score with its memory subscale score and the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) score on sensitivity and specificity for distinguishing normals from patients with dementia (n61). Spanish-speaking normals scored significantly lower than English-speaking normals on MDRS total and its attention, conceptualization, and memory subscales. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve distinguishing normals from patients with dementia was not significantly different among the MDRS total, its memory subscale, and the MMSE. We conclude that (a) the norms based on English-speaking individuals are not appropriate for use with Spanish-speaking individuals, and (b) to screen for dementia, the shorter MDRS Memory subscale and the MMSE are as good as the entire MDRS.