Type 2 diabetes, particularly with concomitant CVD, is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment. We assessed the effect on accelerated cognitive decline (ACD) of the DPP-4 inhibitor linagliptin vs the sulfonylurea glimepiride in individuals with type 2 diabetes.The CAROLINA-COGNITION study was part of the randomised, double-blind, active-controlled CAROLINA trial that evaluated the cardiovascular safety of linagliptin vs glimepiride in individuals with age ≥40 and ≤85 years and HbA1c 48-69 mmol/mol (6.5-8.5%) receiving standard care, excluding insulin therapy. Participants were randomised 1:1 using an interactive telephone- and web-based system and treatment assignment was determined by a computer-generated random sequence with stratification by center. The primary cognitive outcome was occurrence of ACD at end of follow-up, defined as a regression-based index score ≤16th percentile on either the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or a composite measure of attention and executive functioning, in participants with a baseline MMSE score ≥24. Prespecified additional analyses included effects on ACD at week 160, in subgroups (sex, age, race, ethnicity, depressive symptoms, cardiovascular risk, duration of type 2 diabetes, albuminuria), and absolute changes in cognitive performance. Participants, caregivers, and people involved in measurements, examinations or adjudication, were all masked to treatment assignment.Of 6033 participants recruited from hospital and primary care sites, 3163 (38.0% female, mean age/diabetes duration 64/7.6 years, MMSE score 28.5, HbA1c 54 mmol/mol [7.1%]) represent the CAROLINA-COGNITION cohort. Over median 6.1 years, ACD occurred in 27.8% (449/1618, linagliptin) vs 27.6% (426/1545, glimepiride), OR 1.01 (95% CI 0.86, 1.18). Also, no differences in ACD were observed at week 160 (OR 1.07 [0.91, 1.25]), between treatments across subgroups, or for absolute cognitive changes.In a large, international outcome trial in people with relatively early type 2 diabetes at elevated cardiovascular risk, no difference in risk for ACD was observed between linagliptin and glimepiride over 6.1 years.This study was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01243424.