Deficits in learning, memory, and executive functions are common cognitive sequelae of Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, the pattern of deficits within these populations is distinct. Hierarchical regression was used to investigate the contribution of two measures with executive function properties (Verbal Fluency and CLOX) on list-learning performance (CVLT-II total words learned) in a sample of 25 PDD patients and 25 matched AD patients. Executive measures were predictive of list learning in the PDD group after the contribution of overall cognition and contextual verbal learning was accounted for, whereas in the AD group the addition of executive measures did not add to prediction of variance in CVLT-II learning. These findings suggest that deficits in executive functions play a vital role in learning impairments in patients with PDD; however, for AD patients, learning difficulties appear relatively independent of executive dysfunction. © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.