The present study investigated the relationship between genetic variation, MRI measurements and neuropsychological function in a sample of 58 elders exhibiting memory decline. In agreement with previous reports, we found that the ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) and the D allele of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) polymorphisms negatively modulated the cognitive performance. Further, we found an association between the A allele of the apolipoprotein C1 (APOC1) polymorphism and poorer memory and frontal lobe function. No clear associations emerged between MRI measures of white matter lesions (WML) or hippocampal sulcal cavities (HSC) and the cognitive performance after controlling for age effects. Further, the degree of WML or HSC lesions was in general not predisposed genetically except for the presence of the A allele of the APOC1 polymorphism that was related to a higher severity of HSC scores. Our results suggest that WML or HSC do not represent important brain correlates of genetic influences on cognitive performance in memory impaired subjects. © 2001 Elsevier Science Inc.