There is a weak association between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and the histocompatibility antigen HLA-A2, suggesting that A2 has either a minor role in AD or a major role in a subtype of it. To test these alternatives, we studied 54 consecutively ascertained AD patients diagnosed by NINCDS-ADRDA criteria. Patients had a higher frequency of A2 than control subjects, primarily due to the elevated frequency of this antigen in men with early onset of dementia (< 60 years): 92% of early-onset men had A2 as compared with 44% of controls. This finding suggests that A2, or a closely linked gene, confers susceptibility to early-onset AD in men. Furthermore, A2 appears to be primarily associated with sporadic AD, rather than with the familial subtype. © 1991 American Academy of Neurology.