Cationic trypsinogen and cystic fibrosis mutations have been identified in pancreatitis patients, although no study has looked for mutations in both genes in the same patient. Pancreatitis can be induced by alcohol, although not all alcoholics develop pancreatitis. We hypothesize that this phenomenon is due to a genetic predisposition in persons with alcohol-related pancreatitis. We performed sequence analysis of the cationic trypsinogen-coding region in 46 alcohol-related pancreatitis patients and 16 patients with pancreatitis due to causes other than alcohol. We also screened for 40 cystic fibrosis mutations including the 5T allele. No cationic trypsinogen mutations were identified. Cystic fibrosis mutation screening identified the DeltaF508 mutation in two Caucasian alcoholic patients (P<0.025). The cystic fibrosis mutation carrier frequency in African-American alcoholic patients was 3%, which was not significantly increased compared with the normal carrier frequency. The frequency of the 5T allele was not significantly increased compared with the normal population carrier frequency in either racial group. These results may suggest a role for the cystic fibrosis gene in alcohol-related pancreatitis but indicate that cationic trypsinogen mutations are not a common predisposing risk factor for alcohol-related pancreatitis. A multicenter study is necessary to attain sufficient numbers to come to a conclusion.