The spatial patterns of β-amyloid (Aβ) deposits and neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) were studied in areas of the cerebral cortex in 16 patients with the late-onset, sporadic form of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Diffuse, primitive, and classic Aβ deposits and NFT were aggregated into clusters; the clusters being regularly distributed parallel to the pia mater in many areas. In a significant proportion of regions, the sizes of the regularly distributed clusters approximated to those of the cells of origin of the cortico-cortical projections. The diffuse and primitive Aβ deposits exhibited a similar range of spatial patterns but the classic Aβ deposits occurred less frequently in large clusters >6400m. In addition, the NFT often occurred in larger regularly distributed clusters than the Aβ deposits. The location, size, and distribution of the clusters of Aβ deposits and NFT supports the hypothesis that AD is a 'disconnection syndrome' in which degeneration of specific cortico-cortical and cortico-hippocampal pathways results in synaptic disconnection and the formation of clusters of NFT and Aβ deposits.