We investigated in a population-based cohort study the association of global and lobar brain tissue volumes with specific cognitive domains and risk of dementia. Participants (n=490; 60–90 years) were non-demented at baseline (1995–1996). From baseline brain MRI-scans we obtained global and lobar volumes of CSF, GM, normal WM, white matter lesions and hippocampus. We performed neuropsychological testing at baseline to assess information processing speed, executive function, memory function and global cognitive function. Participants were followed for incident dementia until January 1, 2005. Larger volumes of CSF and WML were associated with worse performance on all neuropsychological tests, and an increased risk of dementia. Smaller WM volume was related to poorer information processing speed and executive function. In contrast, smaller GM volume was associated with worse memory function and increased risk of dementia. When investigating lobar GM volumes, we found that hippocampal volume and temporal GM volume were most strongly associated with risk of dementia, even in persons without objective and subjective cognitive deficits at baseline, followed by frontal and parietal GM volumes.