Apathy is a frequent feature of Parkinson's disease (PD), usually related with executive dysfunction. However, in a subgroup of PD patients apathy may represent the only or predominant neuropsychiatric feature. To understand the mechanisms underlying apathy in PD, we investigated emotional processing in PD patients with and without apathy and in healthy controls (HC), assessed by a facial emotion recognition task (FERT). We excluded PD patients with cognitive impairment, depression, other affective disturbances and previous surgery for PD. PD patients with apathy scored significantly worse in the FERT, performing worse in fear, anger, and sadness recognition. No differences, however, were found between nonapathetic PD patients and HC. These findings suggest the existence of a disruption of emotional-affective processing in cognitive preserved PD patients with apathy. To identify specific dysfunction of limbic structures in PD, patients with isolated apathy may have therapeutic and prognostic implications. © 2010 Merc Martnez-Corral et al.