Scanning and integrating microdensitometry of azure B- and Coomassie brilliant blue G-stained tissue sections was used to measure the levels of RNA and protein, respectively, in pyramidal neurons of the insular cortex (INS) and midfrontal gyrus (MFG) in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and age-matched, nondemented control subjects. AD was associated with a decreased neuronal RNA (by 7.4 per cent) and protein (by 28.7 per cent) content in INS. Although the neuronal RNA content was maintained at the control amounts in MFG, the average protein level was lower (14.7 per cent) in AD patients. These results demonstrate a disease-related impairment in metabolic function in two brain regions connected via discrete corticocortical pathways. Such findings support the hypothesis that a primary site of pathology occurs in AD, and specific neural deficits occur secondarily in certain connected brain regions.