In previous studies, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) was shown to have a positive effect on memory in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. Moreover, the reported effects appeared to be more beneficial in early stages of Alzheimer's disease compared to later stage intervention. Based on this stage-dependency, the present study examined the effects of TENS on memory in a preclinical stage of AD, i.e. in subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Our results suggest that TENS did not improve memory in a MCI population. Mechanisms that might underlie the absence of positive effects of the TENS treatment in a MCI population are discussed. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.