Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive degenerative disease that warrants active management to delay or slow progression of its symptoms. The symptoms of AD encompass behavior and daily function as well as cognition, so clinicians should take a global view in the assessment of treatment success. Because there is currently no cure for AD, one cannot expect an initial cognitive improvement observed in the first few months of therapy to be sustained indefinitely. However, one should expect that the patient who is treated early and persistently with medication for AD will show less evidence of behavioral, functional, and cognitive deterioration over a period of time than one would expect in the absence of pharmacotherapy. Thus, treatment success includes not only short-term improvement of symptoms but also less decline over the long term. Determination of treatment success therefore also requires awareness of the typical progression of untreated AD. In this article we review the natural history of AD and evidence for the effectiveness of the treatments indicated for AD: donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine, and memantine. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging©.