Individual present and life time intake of aethanol has been studied in population samples of six areas of Italy (Torino, Varese), Spain (Navarra, Zaragoza), Switzerland (Geneva) and France (Calvados); 2,965 men and 2,369 women were interviewed. Abstinent men were no more than 4% except in Zaragoza (11.5%); 49 to 61% drank between 20 and 80 g. aethanol a day and 21 to 26% more than 80 g. (36% in Navarra). Women drank much less and were more often abstinent: 50 to 94% of them did not drink or drank less than 20 g. a day. Wine was the most commonly consumed beverage (over 60% of total alcohol intake), except in Calvados where cider was still largely consumed (over 30%). Such differences in drinking habits by sex and region are of major public health importance. They do not appear in national sales statistics which must be complemented by surveys on individuals.