In 1998 a task force to develop guidelines for diagnostic evaluation and treatment of dementia was initiated by the European Federation of Neurological Societies (EFNS) scientist panel on dementia. The aims of the task force were to provide evidence-based recommendations and to highlight the role of the neurologist in the management of patients with Alzheimer's disease and other disorders associated with dementia. We based our recommendations on a review of available evidence-based guidelines supplemented with further literature reviews. The recommendations were derived from consensus meetings and relate to individual patient management, as there are inadequate data on the cost-effectiveness of different diagnostic evaluations and treatments for dementia. Their specific applications will depend upon available resources. The particular contributions of the neurologist include: early identification and differential diagnosis of rare and common brain disorders causing cognitive and behavioural symptoms, referral for and interpretation of ancillary investigations, and identification and treatment of vascular and other concurrent diseases. A review of the management of dementia in Europe revealed considerable variation. In some countries neurologists have taken the lead in the management of patients with dementia, while in other countries the neurologist is rarely involved. We recommend that neurologists should have a clear role in the management of dementia in the whole of Europe. They should be involved in the diagnostic evaluation of dementia and facilitate the development of multidisciplinary teams for evaluation and management of patients with cognitive disturbances. The increasing role of neurology in the management of patients with dementia has important implications for training and education.