In an attempt to resolve the relative influences of major genes, multifactorial heritability, and cohort effects on the susceptibility to Alzheimer disease (AD), complex segregation analysis was performed on 232 nuclear families. All families were consecutively ascertained through a single proband who was referred for diagnostic evaluation of a memory disorder. The results suggest that susceptibility to AD is determined, in part, by a major autosomal dominant allele with an additional multifactorial component. Single-locus, polygenic, sporadic, and no-transmission models, as well as recessive inheritance of the major effect, were significantly rejected. Excess transmission from the heterozygote was marginally significant and probably reflects the presence of phenocopies or perhaps the existence of two or more major loci for AD. The frequency of the AD susceptibility allele was estimated to be .038, but the major locus accounts for only 24% of the transmission variance, indicating a substantial role for other genetic and nongenetic mechanisms in the causation of AD.