In order to study the fat-soluble vitamin concentration of patients with chronic alcohol-induced pancreatitis (CAIP) we measured vitamins A and E, total lipids, and retinol-binding protein (RBP) in the plasma of 44 patients with CAIP and 83 controls (44 healthy controls; 39 Crohn's disease patients). Mean plasma vitamin E and vitamin E/total lipid ratio were significantly lower in CAIP when compared with either control or Crohn's disease groups. A low vitamin E/total lipid ratio was found in 75% of CAIP patients (91% with steatorrhea) and a ratio less than 1.0 was virtually 100% predictive of steatorrhea. The mean plasma vitamin A level for the CAIP group was significantly lower (overall 16%, 38% with steatorrhea) than in controls. Patients with CAIP show subnormal plasma levels vitamin E more often as compared to vitamin A. Further, the plasma vitamin E/total lipids ratio may be a sensitive and practical means in the detection and follow-up of steatorrhea in these patients.