To determine the relationships between clinical and brain function in persons with a familial risk for Alzheimer's disease, the authors assessed subjective and objective cognitive abilities, mood state, and cerebral glucose metabolism (using positron emission tomography) in 43 persons with age-associated memory impairment, with and without first-degree relatives with a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Subjective complaints of memory loss, mood state ratings, and objective memory measures were similar in persons with a family history of Alzheimer's disease (n = 29) compared to those without such a history (n = 14). Metabolic ratios in the frontal regions correlated with a decrease in a specific type of subjective memory complaint (mnemonics usage; p < .001) and some mood state ratings. These results indicate that parietal and temporal hypometabolism is not evident in persons with mild age-related memory complaints, even when such subjects have a familial risk for Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, self-reports of mnemonics usage may be sensitive indicators of decreased frontal lobe function. Longitudinal study will determine whether such clinical and metabolic measures will predict eventual disease progression.