Curcumin therapy in animals has produced positive cognitive and behavioural outcomes; results of human trials, however, have been inconsistent. In this study, we report the results of a 12-month, randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study that investigated the ability of a curcumin formulation to prevent cognitive decline in a population of community-dwelling older adults. Individuals (n 96) ingested either placebo or 1500 mg/d BiocurcumaxTM for 12 months. A battery of clinical and cognitive measures was administered at baseline and at the 6-month and 12-month follow-up assessments. A significant time×treatment group interaction was observed for the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (repeated-measures analysis; time×treatment; F=3·85, P<0·05). Subsequent analysis revealed that this association was driven by a decline in function of the placebo group at 6 months that was not observed in the curcumin treatment group. No differences were observed between the groups for all other clinical and cognitive measures. Our findings suggest that further longitudinal assessment is required to investigate changes in cognitive outcome measures, ideally in conjunction with biological markers of neurodegeneration.