Recent research studies associate elevated gonadotropin levels with dementia. Specifically, an age associated increase in levels of luteinizing hormone has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between gonadotropin levels and cognition in older, healthy postmenopausal women. Cognitive functioning was compared with plasma levels of estradiol, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, A beta 40 and APOE genetic status in 649 community-dwelling, non-demented older women residing in Western Australia. High endogenous luteinizing hormone levels were associated with a lower cognitive score, especially in older women and in those women that were depressed. Unexpectedly, disproportionately well preserved cognitive functioning was found for the oldest women who had high endogenous levels of follicle stimulating hormone. The findings indicate that gonadotropins can impact upon cognitive functioning in older postmenopausal women, and that luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone may exert contrasting effects. Taken together, the findings have important implications for the development of possible preventive strategies for dementia.