Deficits in attention are present early in the course of Alzheimer disease (AD). Acetylcholine receptors are appealing molecular targets for intervention as cholinergic pathways are involved in the neurobiology of attention. For this reason, measures of attention were included in 2 independent, multicenter, randomized, parallel, controlled trials in subjects with AD comparing the effects of galantamine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and postulated nicotinic receptor modulator, and donepezil, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. The attention battery of the Cognitive Drug Research computerized assessment system was used in both trials. Small magnitude, positive signals were observed for simple and choice reaction times for both compounds. Attention task performance tended to improve early for galantamine-treated subjects. A consistent temporal pattern of improvement was not observed in donepezil-treated subjects. Quantitative findings appeared more pronounced in subjects with moderate AD. Galantamine's proposed action as a nicotinic receptor modulator may bear on these findings. Improved attention may have positive effects on cognitive and functional outcomes for AD patients, although this hypothesis requires further study and validation.