The effect of hyperglycemia on hormone levels, metabolite levels, and memory performance was examined in 22 subjects with very mild and mild probable dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) and in 12 normal elderly adults. Subjects were tested in 3 plasma glucose conditions (fasting baseline, 175 mg/dl, and 225 mg/dl) at initial and 18-month follow-up sessions. Initially, adults with very mild DAT showed memory facilitation and elevations in plasma insulin in the 225-mg/dl glucose condition relative to baseline. At follow-up, very mild DAT patients whose dementia had progressed showed significant decreases in insulin and hyperglycemic memory facilitation. Changes in basal insulin and cortisol levels over time were correlated with memory changes for DAT subjects. These results suggest that glucoregulatory abnormalities may contribute to the pathophysiology of DAT.