Monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B) activity of platelets of an age- and sex-matched group of controls was compared with several groups of inpatients having non-familial dementia of Alzheimer type (DAT), Parkinson's disease (PD), multi-infarct dementia (MID), mixed types of these 3 diseases and a group of other central nervous system (CNS) organic disorders. All patients were subjected to several psychometric tests, including the Sandoz Clinical Assessment--Geriatric Scale, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Mini-Mental State Examination and the Organic mental Disorder Scale (OMDS). A statistically significant enhancement of MAO-B activity could be observed in DAT patients and in PD patients, whereas the MID group showed a mean activity similar to that of the control group and the group with other organic CNS disorders. In DAT patients the degree of dementia in the OMDS test and the enhancement of MAO activity were positively correlated, but PD did not show such a correlation. It is concluded that the increase of MAO activity in PD and in DAT might be due to a disease-related enhanced affinity to oxygen and to such oxygen-derived radicals as superoxide or hydroxyl radicals. However, a possible drug-induced enhancement of MAO activity in PD cannot be excluded. Furthermore, the MAO-B activity values in platelets of individual patients or controls are not indicative of diagnosis or prognosis of any of these diseases and are of no disease-related specificity.