The effects of age, subcortical vascular disease, apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon 4 allele and hypertension on entorhinal cortex (ERC) and hippocampal atrophy rates were explored in a longitudinal MRI study with 42 cognitively normal (CN) elderly subjects from 58 to 87 years old. The volumes of the ERC, hippocampus, and white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and the presence of lacunes were assessed on MR images. Age was significantly associated with increased atrophy rates of 0.04 +/- 0.02% per year for ERC and 0.05 +/- 0.02% per year for hippocampus. Atrophy rates of hippocampus, but not that of ERC increased with presence of lacunes, in addition to age. WMH, APOE 84 and hypertension had no significant effect on atrophy rates. In conclusion, age and presence of lacunes should be taken into consideration in imaging studies of CN subjects and AD patients to predict AD progression and assess the response to treatment trials. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.