Background: Retrospective epidemiologic studies suggest that individuals exposed to anti-inflammatory agents such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have a lower probability of developing AD as well as an older age at onset for the illness. Neuroinflammation may play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD. Interleukin 1 (IL-1), a potent proinflammatory cytokine, is colocalized immunohistochemically to neuritic plaques, a requisite neuropathologic feature for AD. A polymorphism in the 5'-flanking regulatory region at -889 of the IL-1α gene (a C-to-T transition designated as IL-1A[-889] allele 2) may cause an overexpression of IL-1α, a finding shown to be associated with inflammatory diseases. The IL-1A(-889) allele 2 polymorphism may be associated with AD pathogenesis. Methods: A total of 259 patients with AD and 192 nondemented control subjects were included from two different centers (Indianapolis, IN, and Munich, Germany). Genotyping for APOE alleles and IL-1A(-889) allele 2 was performed by PCR-based amplification followed by restrictive endonuclease digestion. Statistical analyses were conducted by center-, gender group-, and age group-stratified Mantel-Haenszel odds ratios, CI, and p values. Results: The allele frequency of IL-1A(-889) allele 2 was 46% in clinically diagnosed patients with probable AD versus 34% in control subjects from the combined centers. Conclusion: The authors found an increased risk for AD with an estimated Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio of 1.68 (95% CI 1.1 to 2.6; p = 0.022) for heterozygous carriers and 7.2 (95% CI 2.0 to 24.5; p = 0.003) for individuals homozygous for IL-1A(-889) allele 2. They found no evidence for an interaction between the IL-1A and the apoE ε4 polymorphisms (carriers and homozygotes), age, or gender with regard to conferred risk. The data strongly support an association between the IL-1A(-889) allele 2, especially in homozygotes, and later-onset AD.