Heart rate variability (HRV) is a sensitive method for the assessment of autonomic function and requires little cooperation from the subject, making it suitable for use in dementia. Preliminary studies have suggested that HRV may be impaired in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). HRV has not been studied in vascular dementia (VAD). We investigate autonomic function in AD and VAD, using power spectral analysis of HRV. One hundred and fourteen participants were evaluated (14 AD, 20 VAD and 80 controls). The resting ECG was recorded for 5 min with participants in the supine position. Power spectral analysis used to obtain spectral bands in the very-low-frequency (<0.04 Hz), low-frequency (0.04–0.15 Hz) and high-frequency (0.15–0.40 Hz) bands and total spectral power (<0.40 Hz) according to international HRV guidelines. There were no differences in HRV in patients with AD or VAD when compared with controls.