We investigated drinking behaviour and psychiatric outcome of patients with alcoholic liver disease after liver transplantation, to help assess the advisability of the procedure in these patients. English-speaking patients (n = 20) transplanted for alcoholic liver disease and informants, and patients transplanted for non-alcoholic liver disease (n = 54), were assessed by semi-structured interviews and standardized questionnaires 1-6 years following transplantation. All alcoholics were abstinent for several months after transplantation, but only one patient remained totally abstinent. Sixteen of the 20 alcoholics later returned to regular drinking; the mean daily alcohol consumption was 3.5 units. Forty percent of the group were drinking above the recommended safe levels for the general population and over 50% were 'binge' drinking intermittently. The alcoholic liver transplant patients did not have higher levels of psychiatric or physical morbidity than controls. Patients with alcoholic liver disease return to drinking after a period of abstinence following liver transplantation, although at lower levels than before. Their vulnerability to alcohol abuse is not explained by higher levels of physical or psychiatric morbidity.