This article summarizes the proceedings of a workshop presented at the 2000 RSA Meeting in Denver, Colorado. The aim of this workshop was to discuss the basic methodologies, diagnostic performance, and clinical utility of three technologies: carbohydrate-deficient transferrin, the "Early Detection of Alcohol Consumption" score, and whole blood associated acetaldehyde. Each method adopts a different strategy to identify heavy alcohol consumption and offers a unique approach to determine alcohol abstinence and relapses. Appropriate application of these technologies can lead to early intervention for alcohol problems before significant tissue damage occurs. To date these methodologies have yet to be formally contrasted and compared. Sensitivity, specificity, predictive value, availability, ease of use, and interpretation of tests results are important aspects to consider when selecting the most appropriate and cost-effective system. Critical evaluation of these methodologies can enable research and clinical laboratories to choose the system that best meets their particular needs in terms of assay feasibility, budget, and goals.