Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by β-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Plasma levels of phospho-tau217 (P-tau217) accurately differentiate Alzheimer’s disease dementia from other dementias, but it is unclear to what degree this reflects β-amyloid plaque accumulation, tau tangle accumulation, or both. In a cohort with post-mortem neuropathological data (N=88), both plaque and tangle density contributed independently to higher P-tau217. Several findings were replicated in a cohort with PET imaging (“BioFINDER-2”, N=426), where β-amyloid and tau PET were independently associated to P-tau217. P-tau217 correlated with β-amyloid PET (but not tau PET) in early disease stages, and with both β-amyloid and (more strongly) tau PET in late disease stages. Finally, P-tau217 mediated the association between β-amyloid and tau in both cohorts, especially for tau outside of the medial temporal lobe. These findings support the hypothesis that plasma P-tau217 is increased by both β-amyloid plaques and tau tangles and is congruent with the hypothesis that P-tau is involved in β-amyloid-dependent formation of neocortical tau tangles.