Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the most severe manifestation of the adverse effects of alcohol on foetal development, was first described in the French medical literature by Lemoine et al. in 1968 [Les Gfants des parents alcholiques: anomalies observes a propos de 127 cas (The children of alchoholic parents: anomalies observed in 127 cases). Quert in Medicine 8, 476-482]. Five years later, Jones et al., 1973. Pattern of malformation in offspring of chronic alcholic mothers. Lancet 1, 1129-1267] were the first to delineate systematically the association between maternal alcohol abuse and a specific pattern of birth defects and to provide diagnostic criteria for this condition. Several diagnostic systems have since been developed with a view to capturing the wide spectrum of physical and behavioral anomalies resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. The purpose of the current paper is to outline the evolution of FAS as a medical diagnosis.