Background Previous studies have indicated that not all subjects who meet the CAMDEX criteria of 'minimal dementia' progress to dementia. In the present study, predictors of outcome in minimally demented subjects were tested. Methods Forty-five subjects with minimal dementia who were participating in a population-based study were followed-up for on average 2.3 years. Variables tested as predictors of outcome were age, the apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype, and the baseline scores on the MMSE, CAMCOG memory subscale, and fluency. Depression at baseline was tested as a predictor of reversible minimal dementia. Results At follow-up, minimal dementia turned out to be reversible in 11 subjects (24%), and persistent in ten subjects (22%). Twenty-four subjects (53%) had become demented. Predictors of outcome in multivariate analyses were age, score on the CAMCOG memory subscale, and the APOE genotype. Depression was not associated with reversible minimal dementia. Conclusions Subjects who meet the CAMDEX criteria of minimal dementia form a heterogenous group with respect to clinical outcome. Age, the score on the CAMCOG memory subscale, and the APOE genotype can improve predictive accuracy in these subjects.