Dementia disorders are characterized by clinicopathological criteria. Molecular understandings of these disorders, based on immunohistochemical studies, biochemical investigations, genetic approaches, and animal models, have resulted in advances in diagnosis. Likewise, translational research has allowed us to apply our increasing basic scientific knowledge of neurodegeneration to the rational development of new investigational therapies based on our current understanding of disease pathogenesis. This review discusses the application of translational research to both diagnosis and treatment of dementia disorders. The development of biomarkers has yielded imaging and biochemical methods that assist the physician more than ever in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementias, especially Alzheimer disease. New diagnostic criteria for disease are based on these molecular-based techniques. And these biomarkers are of potential use in monitoring disease activity during therapeutic trials. Translational investigations likewise have led toward new avenues in targeted dementia research. This is particularly so in the development and testing of disease-modifying treatments that might slow or deter progressive deterioration. Recent clinical trials have not been based on empirical trials of established drugs but, rather, on trials of drugs shown, through experiments in biochemical, cell culture, and animal models, to interfere with known elements of the pathogenetic cascade of Alzheimer disease.