Although alcohol drinking increases blood pressure and heavy drinking has been associated with alcoholic cardiomyopathy, little is known about the association between light to moderate drinking and risk of heart failure (HF) in hypertensive subjects. Thus, the association between light to moderate drinking and incident HF in 5,153 hypertensive male physicians who were free of stroke, myocardial infarction, or major cancers at baseline was prospectively examined. Alcohol consumption was self-reported and classified as <1, 1 to 4, 5 to 7, and >or=8 drinks/week. HF was ascertained using follow-up questionnaires and validated using Framingham criteria. Average age was 58 years, and about 70% of subjects consumed 1 to 7 drinks/week. A total of 478 incident HF cases occurred in this cohort during follow-up. Compared with subjects consuming <1 drink/week, hazard ratios for HF were 0.89 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.70 to 1.12), 0.72 (95% CI 0.57 to 0.91), and 0.38 (95% CI 0.20 to 0.72) for alcohol consumption of 1 to 4, 5 to 7, and >or=8 drinks/week after adjustment for age, body mass index, smoking, randomization group, use of multivitamins, vegetable consumption, breakfast cereal, exercise, and history of atrial fibrillation, respectively (p for trend <0.001). Similar results were obtained for subjects with HF with and without antecedent myocardial infarction and those without diabetes mellitus. In conclusion, our data suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of HF in hypertensive male physicians.