Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with the degeneration of cerebral cortex, which results in focal volume change or thinning in the cerebral cortex in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Therefore, the measurement of the cortical thickness is important for detection of the atrophy related to AD. Our purpose was to develop a computerized method for automated measurement of the cortical thickness for three-dimensional (3-D) MRI. The cortical thickness was measured with normal vectors from white matter surface to cortical gray matter surface on a voxel-by-voxel basis. First, a head region was segmented by use of an automatic thresholding technique, and then the head region was separated into the cranium region and brain region by means of a multiple gray level thresholding with monitoring the ratio of the first maximum volume to the second one. Next, a fine white matter region was determined based on a level set method as a seed region of the rough white matter region extracted from the brain region. Finally, the cortical thickness was measured by extending normal vectors from the white matter surface to gray matter surface (brain surface) on a voxel-by-voxel basis. We applied the computerized method to high-resolution 3-D T1-weighted images of the whole brains from 7 clinically diagnosed AD patients and 8 healthy subjects. The average cortical thicknesses in the upper slices for AD patients were thinner than those for non-AD subjects, whereas the average cortical thicknesses in the lower slices for most AD patients were slightly thinner. Our preliminary results suggest that the MRI-based computerized measurement of gray matter atrophy is promising for detecting AD.