Cortical grey matter atrophy patterns have been reported in healthy ageing and Alzheimer disease (AD), but less consistently in the parietal regions of the brain. We investigated cortical grey matter volume patterns in parietal areas. The grey matter of the somatosensory cortex, superior and inferior parietal lobule was measured in 75 older adults (38 cognitively stable and 37 individuals with cognitive decline after 3 years). Dementia screening 6 years after scanning resulted in nine AD cases from the cognitively stable (n= 3) and cognitive decline group (n= 6), who were assigned to a third group, the preclinical AD group. When regional differences in cortical volume in the parietal lobe areas were compared between groups, significant differences were found between either the cognitive decline or stable group on the one hand and preclinical AD individuals on the other hand in the inferior parietal lobule. Group membership was best predicted by the grey matter volume of the inferior parietal lobule, compared to the other parietal lobe areas. The parietal lobe was characterised by a differential atrophy pattern based on cognitive status, which is in agreement with the 'last-developed-first-atrophied' principle. Future studies should investigate the surplus value of the inferior parietal lobe as a potential marker for the diagnosis of AD compared to other brain regions, such as the medial temporal lobe and the prefrontal lobe. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.