The association of alcohol and cigarette consumption was explored among 13,673 black or white persons aged 40-49 years, who received check-ups from mid-1979 to 1985. Alcohol use was strongly associated with number of cigarettes smoked per day, but not with tar-yield, mentholation and presence of filters. Duration of cigarette use, frequency and depth of inhalation, proportion of cigarette smoked and greater time from arising to first cigarette were significantly related to alcohol use in some but not all race-sex groups. Among smokers who consumed alcohol, liquor drinkers smoked the most cigarettes per day and wine drinkers the least. Thus, the association between alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking is strong in middle-aged persons but there are race- and sex-related disparities when specific aspects of smoking behaviour are considered.