The physical properties of alpha-Al(2)O(3):C are very similar to that of quartz, which make it an attractive dosimetric material for geological and archaeological dating applications. Storage experiments in an ultra-low-radiation underground environment (UDO at PTB) and gamma-ray spectrometry show that the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) signal of this material does neither suffer from a significant inherent background caused by traces of radionuclides (<6 microGy a(-1)) nor from fading. After having performed a simple calibration procedure, gamma dosimetry based on alpha-Al(2)O(3):C detectors, which were exposed in a brick block and a lead castle for different periods of time, provided concordant results with dose values derived from independent gamma-ray spectrometric measurements using high-purity germanium and NaI:Tl detectors. These investigations indirectly confirm both the absence of a significant inherent background and fading of the detector material. Small doses of a few micro gray accumulated in short exposure times to environmental radiation can be accurately measured, even when doses (i.e. transport dose) much larger than the actual environmental dose have to be subtracted. It is shown that the OSL signal caused by small transport doses can be easily and reproducibly reset even under difficult field conditions by illuminating the dosemeters with the blue light from Luxeon LEDs. Summarised, alpha-Al(2)O(3):C appears to be the material of choice for dosimetric dating applications of quartz or related materials, when analysed by using OSL.