Objective - Apolipoprotein E-ε4 (APOE-ε4) is a potential risk factor for cerebral vascular disease. The aim of the present study was to examine the relative importance of APOE-ε4 and other relevant risk factors for the extent of cerebral white matter hyperintensity (WMH) in a community-based sample of elderly subjects. Materials and methods - From a cohort of 976 subjects born in 1914, APOE genotype was determined and MRI examinations were carried out in 75 subjects. WMH were rated using a standard semi-quantitative method. ANOVA and regression analyses were conducted to explore the relative importance of the potential risk factors. Results - APOE genotype and antihypertensive treatment were significantly associated with severity of total WMH load (P < 0.05). Conclusions - The study confirmed the association between APOE-ε4 and WMH. Pharmaceutical treatment for arterial hypertension was also associated with the total burden of WMH in this study.