© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved. Background: information provided by an informant about a patient with cognitive change is an essential component of clinical history taking. How an informant's report relates to the patient's phenomenological experience of memory loss is yet to be understood. The aim was to examine patterns of relationships between self and informant reports from a phenomenological perspective.Methods: forty-three healthy non-memory complainers (HC-NMC), 37 healthy subjective memory complainers (HC-SMC) and 43 individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were administered a semi-structured interview, which measured their concerns of frequency of memory lapses and impact on mood. Informants responded to questionnaires.Results: self-reported concerns of increasing frequency and impacted mood related to informant concerns in HC-SMCs. MCI with lower informant concern showed a similar pattern to HC-SMCs on complaints of increasing frequency. In those with higher informant concern, self-reports markedly separated from informant concern. The MCI group with greater informant concern performed comparatively poor on verbal and non-verbal memory measures.Conclusions: our results suggest that the association between self-reported and informant memory concerns is moderated by MCI severity. Self and informant reports of increasing memory lapse frequency aligned in HC-SMC and MCIs with low informant concern, suggesting a similar dyadic experience of memory change. In MCIs with greater informant concern, the pattern changed exposing a changing insight with advancing memory impairment. These individuals are potentially reflecting a 'forgetting that they forget' phenomenon in elements of their concern.