Single photon emission tomography (SPET) with the lipophilic blood flow marker 99mTc-hexamethyl propyleneamine oxime (99mTc-HMPAO) has been used to determine regional uptake of radiolabel into brain regions of patients with presenile Alzheimer's disease and Korsakoff's psychosis, and age-matched controls. Using occipital cortical uptake as reference area, the pattern of relative regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was determined in other cortical areas and basal ganglia. In Alzheimer's disease, reduction in rCBF occurred most strikingly in posterior temporal and parietal areas. By contrast, in Korsakoff's psychosis, posterior temporal rCBF was maintained, although there was a trend to reduced tracer uptake in other cortical areas. These impairments of flow were correlated with impairments of neuropsychological function. In Alzheimer's disease, left posterior temporal and left parietal regions in particular showed rCBF to be strongly correlated with most aspects of cognitive function. In Korsakoff's psychosis, however, impaired flow in frontal regions was correlated with impaired performance on tests of memory and orientation. The findings in Alzheimer's disease show quantitative parallels with those from studies using Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and extend our understanding of the relationship between cognition and regional brain function in dementia. The findings in Korsakoff's psychosis offer the first direct evidence linking frontal lobe dysfunction with the cognitive impairment seen in the disorder.