Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) belongs to a family of proteins related to the nerve growth factor family, which are responsible for the proliferation, survival and differentiation of neurons. BDNF is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addiction. We hypothesize that a functionally relevant polymorphism of the BDNF gene promoter may be associated with the pathogenesis of alcohol dependence. We performed an association study of 141 families with alcohol dependence. One hundred and thirty-eight healthy control subjects were matched based on ethnicity and gender. An association between the BDNF Val66Met gene polymorphism and alcoholism was not found.