A syndrome of subcortical dementia has been described in conditions predominantly affecting the basal ganglia or thalamus, structures that have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. There are similarities between subcortical dementia and the type II syndrome of schizophrenia, in terms of clinical features, pattern of neuropsychological deficits, pathology, biochemistry and data from brain-imaging studies. These similarities raise the possibility that certain schizophrenic symptoms, particularly negative symptoms and disturbance of movement, may reflect subcortical pathology. Neuropsychological deficits of presumed frontal lobe origin have been reported in some schizophrenic subjects. The occurrence of such deficits in a condition in which frontal lobe pathology has not been clearly demonstrated may be explicable in terms of a subcortical deafferentation of the pre-frontal cortex.