Objective: To assess associations between head injury (HI) with loss of consciousness (LOC), ageing and markers of later-life cerebral pathology; and to explore whether those effects may help explain subtle cognitive deficits in dementia-free individuals. Methods: Participants (n = 502, age = 69–71) from the 1946 British Birth Cohort underwent cognitive testing (subtests of Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite), 18F-florbetapir Aβ-PET and MR imaging. Measures include Aβ-PET status, brain, hippocampal and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volumes, normal appearing white matter (NAWM) microstructure, Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-related cortical thickness, and serum neurofilament light chain (NFL). LOC HI metrics include HI occurring: (i) >15 years prior to the scan (ii) anytime up to age 71. Results: Compared to those with no evidence of an LOC HI, only those reporting an LOC HI>15 years prior (16%, n = 80) performed worse on cognitive tests at age 69–71, taking into account premorbid cognition, particularly on the digit-symbol substitution test (DSST). Smaller brain volume (BV) and adverse NAWM microstructural integrity explained 30% and 16% of the relationship between HI and DSST, respectively. We found no evidence that LOC HI was associated with Aβ load, hippocampal volume, WMH volume, AD-related cortical thickness or NFL (all p > 0.01). Interpretation: Having a LOC HI aged 50’s and younger was linked with lower later-life cognitive function at age ~70 than expected. This may reflect a damaging but small impact of HI; explained in part by smaller BV and different microstructure pathways but not via pathology related to AD (amyloid, hippocampal volume, AD cortical thickness) or ongoing neurodegeneration (serum NFL).