Regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) was measured by single photon emission computerized tomography of inhaled 133-Xe in 20 chronic alcoholic men. Mean CBF was 51 ml/(100 g x min) compared with 53 ml/(100 g x min) in 20 normals. Reduced cerebellar blood flow correlated both to structural abnormalities seen on CT scan and to cognitive dysfunction. Slight abnormalities of the regional CBF was observed in the alcoholics. They had a higher incidence of regional low flow areas than a control group. Low flow areas were found in frontal and posterior parts of the brain not only in patients with atrophia, but also in patients without CT abnormalities, suggesting neuronal dysfunction. The occurrence of regional low flow areas was associated with the severity of alcoholism, cerebral atrophy and intellectual impairment.