We reviewed case-control studies of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in patients with Alzheimer's dementia (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in order to establish the relative severity and location of white matter microstructural changes. EMBASE and MEDLINE were searched using the keywords, (["diffusion tensor"] and ["Alzheimer" or "mild cognitive impairment"]), as were reference lists of relevant papers. Forty-one diffusion tensor imaging studies contained data that were suitable for inclusion. Group means and standard deviations for fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity, or p values from 2-sample tests, were extracted and pooled, using standard methods of meta-analysis and metaregression. Fractional anisotropy was decreased in AD in all regions except parietal white matter and internal capsule, while patients with MCI had lower values in all white matter regions except parietally and occipitally. Mean diffusivity was increased in AD in all regions, and in MCI in all but occipital and frontal regions. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.