© 2018 Elsevier B.V. The locus coeruleus-noradrenergic (LC-NA) system supplies the cerebral cortex with norepinephrine, a key modulator of cognition. Neurodegeneration of the LC is an early hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this article, we analyze current literature to understand whether NA degeneration in AD simply leads to a loss of norepinephrine input to the cortex. With reported adaptive changes in the LC-NA system at the anatomical, cellular, and molecular levels in AD, existing evidence support a seemingly sustained level of extracellular NE in the cortex, at least at early stages of the long course of AD. We postulate that loss of the integrity of the NA system, rather than mere loss of NE input, is a key contributor to AD pathogenesis. A thorough understanding of NA dysfunction in AD has a large impact on both our comprehension and treatment of this devastating disease.