Addition of amyloid β (Aβ) peptide Aβ40 to Aβ42 can delay Aβ42 aggregation, but consequent cytotoxicity has been reported to be enhanced or diminished. In the present study, we found that cytotoxicity was enhanced when human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells were incubated in a mixture of wt Aβ42 and Aβ40wt at a ratio of 1 : 10–20 (0.1 : 1–2 μM) for 24–36 h, whereas the enhancement was detected in cells incubated for longer times (48–60 h) with the less amyloidogenic Flemish Aβ40 variant or in cells incubated for as short as 12 h with the more amyloidogenic Dutch variant. Reductions in cytotoxicity by Aβ40 were most prominently observed in the Flemish and wt Aβ40/Aβ42 mixture at ratio 1 : 20 incubated for a short time (~12 h). The most cytotoxic Aβ40/Aβ42 mixtures were enriched in Aβ protofibril-like structures, implying a strong correlation between cytotoxicity and this structure, the formation of which was dependent on amyloidogenic properties and incubation time. The consequences of the interactions were probably because of the different amyloidogenic properties of the Aβ40 variants, rather than to those of Aβ42, because aggregation rates of Aβ40 variants were highly dependent on sequence, whereas those of Aβ42 variants were not. These studies highlight a potential role for Aβ40 in cytotoxicity and provide novel mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of each familial Alzheimer's disease-associated Aβ40 variant. Copyright © 2013 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.