Background: Recent findings suggest that patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bv-FTD) differ in their disease progression (progressive vs nonprogressive patients). The current study investigates whether the two groups can be discriminated by their clinical features at first presentation. Methods: Archival clinical data of the Early Onset Dementia Clinic, Cambridge, UK, were analysed for 71 patients with bv-FTD: 45 progressive and 26 nonprogressive cases with more than 3 years of follow-up. Results: The subgroups were largely indistinguishable on the basis of the presenting clinical features but could be distinguished on general cognitive (Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination-revised) and selected supportive diagnostic features (distractibility, stereotypic speech, impaired activities of daily living (ADLs) and current depression). Conclusions: Progressive and non-progressive patients are difficult to differentiate on the basis of current clinical diagnostic criteria for FTD but a combination of general cognitive, executive dysfunction and impaired ADL measures appear to be the most promising discriminators.