It is widely accepted that the chronic use of alcohol induces metabolic abnormalities and neuronal damage in the brain, which can lead to cognitive dysfunction. Neuroimaging studies reveal that alcohol-induced brain damage is region specific and prominent damage has been observed in both gray and white matter of the prefrontal cortex, and a wide range of white matter structures including the corpus callosum. Molecular mechanisms underlying these structural changes are largely unknown. Using proteomics we have analysed the changes in protein expression in the splenium of the corpus callosum in two different alcoholic groups. Protein extracts from splenium of 22 human brains (nine controls, seven uncomplicated alcoholics and six complicated alcoholics with hepatic cirrhosis-designated complicated) were separated using two-dimensional gel electrophorosis. Image analysis revealed that there were significant alterations in protein expression for 25 protein spots in the uncomplicated alcoholic group and 45 in the complicated group compared to control (P<0.05; ANOVA). In a total of 72 spots (identified as 36 proteins), 15 (identified as 14 proteins) spots overlapped between two alcoholic groups. Another 32 protein spots (26 different proteins) were identified only in the complicated alcoholics. It is therefore possible that these 26 proteins in the complicated group are likely to be the results of hepatic compromise. When compared with our previous data of white matter from the prefrontal cortex in alcoholics, large numbers of identified proteins in the splenium are different. This suggests that there may be different mechanisms causing alcohol-induced brain damage in different regions of the white matter. Our data also indicate the importance of other pathways including oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation and apoptosis as potential causes of alcohol-induced brain damage.