Cognitive deficits have come to be viewed as a hallmark feature of schizophrenic illness. Although laboratory based assessment of patients' cognitive deficits has been well investigated, few studies to date have examined the utility of clinical ratings of cognitive symptoms using the Schedule for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) attention subscale. In this report, we examined the convergence between clinical ratings of cognitive impairment using the SANS attention subscale and performance on a variety of neurocognitive tests designed to measure attentional impairment, as well as other cognitive constructs such as working memory and executive functioning. A total of 56 acute schizophrenic inpatients were clinically rated with the SANS and completed the Continuous Performance Test, Digit Span Distraction Test, Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, and the Trailmaking Test. A series of correlational and regression analyses were conducted to test the concurrent and discriminant validity of the SANS attention subscale. Performance measures of attention, but not working memory or executive functioning, were significantly correlated with and moderately predicted the severity of SANS rated inattention. Additionally, the attention subscale was discriminated from the other SANS negative symptom subscales in predicting a laboratory measure of attentional functioning. The SANS attention subscale demonstrated both concurrent and discriminant validity. These data indicate that attentional dysfunction in schizophrenia can be meaningfully rated and interpreted using the SANS.