Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the leading cause of dementia, has an estimated heritability of approximately 70%1. The genetic component of AD has been mainly assessed using genome-wide association studies, which do not capture the risk contributed by rare variants2. Here, we compared the gene-based burden of rare damaging variants in exome sequencing data from 32,558 individuals-16,036 AD cases and 16,522 controls. Next to variants in TREM2, SORL1 and ABCA7, we observed a significant association of rare, predicted damaging variants in ATP8B4 and ABCA1 with AD risk, and a suggestive signal in ADAM10. Additionally, the rare-variant burden in RIN3, CLU, ZCWPW1 and ACE highlighted these genes as potential drivers of respective AD-genome-wide association study loci. Variants associated with the strongest effect on AD risk, in particular loss-of-function variants, are enriched in early-onset AD cases. Our results provide additional evidence for a major role for amyloid-β precursor protein processing, amyloid-β aggregation, lipid metabolism and microglial function in AD.