To describe the neuropsychological characteristics of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) subgroups identified in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) cognition study.MCI was classified as MCI-amnestic type (MCI-AT): patients with documented memory deficits but otherwise normal cognitive function; and MCI-multiple cognitive deficits type (MCI-MCDT): impairment of at least one cognitive domain (not including memory), or one abnormal test in at least two other domains, but who had not crossed the dementia threshold. The MCI subjects did not have systemic, neurological, or psychiatric disorders likely to affect cognition.MCI-AT (n = 10) had worse verbal and non-verbal memory performance than MCI-MCDT (n = 28) or normal controls (n = 374). By contrast, MCI-MCDT had worse language, psychomotor speed, fine motor control, and visuoconstructional function than MCI-AT or normal controls. MCI-MCDT subjects had memory deficits, though they were less pronounced than in MCI-AT. Of the MCI-MCDT cases, 22 (78.5%) had memory deficits, and 6 (21.5%) did not. MCI-MCDT with memory disorders had more language deficits than MCI-MCDT without memory disorders. By contrast, MCI-MCDT without memory deficits had more fine motor control deficits than MCI-MCDT with memory deficits.The most frequent form of MCI was the MCI-MCDT with memory deficits. However, the identification of memory impaired MCI groups did not reflect the true prevalence of MCI in a population, as 16% of all MCI cases and 21.5% of the MCI-MCDT cases did not have memory impairment. Study of idiopathic amnestic and non-amnestic forms of MCI is essential for an understanding of the aetiology of MCI.