Objective: To examine the effects of donepezil compared with placebo on the preservation of function in patients with AD over a 1-year period. Methods: This was a prospective, 54-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, survival to endpoint study. Patients were required to have at entry: a diagnosis of probable AD (National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke criteria); Mini-Mental State Examination score of 12 to 20; Clinical Dementia Rating of 1 or 2; modified Hachinski ischemia score ≤4; and capability of performing 8 of 10 instrumental activities of daily living and 5 of 6 basic activities of daily living. Patients (n = 431) were randomized to placebo or donepezil (5 mg/day for 28 days, 10 mg/day thereafter). Outcome measures were the AD Functional Assessment and Change Scale, the Mini-Mental State Examination, and Clinical Dementia Rating scale. At each visit, investigators determined whether predefined criteria for clinically evident decline in functional status had been met. Patients who met the endpoint criteria were discontinued per protocol. Results: Donepezil extended the median time to clinically evident functional decline by 5 months versus placebo. The probability of patients treated with donepezil remaining in the study with no clinically evident functional loss was 51% at 48 weeks, compared with 35% for placebo. The Kaplan-Meier survival curves for the two treatment groups were different (p = 0.002, log-rank test). Conclusions: Patients with AD continue to show detectable disease progression over time, but treatment with donepezil for 1 year was associated with a 38% reduction in the risk of functional decline compared with placebo.