In this study, reaction time (RT), intraindividual variability (IIV), and errors, and the effects of practice and processing load upon such function, were compared in patients with subcortical ischemic vascular cognitive impairment (SIVCI) [n = 27] and cognitively healthy older adults (CH) [n = 26]. Compared to CH aging, SIVCI was characterized by a profile of significantly slowed RT, raised IIV, and higher error levels, particularly in the presence of distracting stimuli, indicating that the integrity and/or accessibility of the additional functions required to support high processing load, serial search strategies, are reduced in SIVCI. Furthermore, although practice speeded RT in SIVCI, unlike CH, practice did not lead to an improvement in IIV. This indicates that improvement in RT in SIVCI can in fact mask an abnormally high degree of IIV. Because IIV appears more related to disease, function, and health than RT, its status and potential for change may represent a particularly meaningful, and relevant, disease characteristic of SIVCI. Finally, a high level of within-group variation in the above measures was another characteristic of SIVCI, with such processing heterogeneity in patients with ostensibly the same diagnosis, possibly related to individual variation in pathological load. Detailed measurement of RT, IIV, errors, and practice effects therefore reveal a degree of functional impairment in brain processing not apparent by measuring RT in isolation.