The performances of 134 primary care physicians at initial screening about alcohol use and screening with the CAGE questions were assessed using 17 standardized patients. For three-fourths of the standardized patients, more than 50% of the physicians asked an initial alcohol screening question. However, use of the CAGE questions with six patients who reported drinking more than one drink per day was less consistent; for most of these patients, few physicians asked any CAGE questions. Fewer than 50% of the physicians included alcohol abuse in the differential diagnosis for three of four patients who drank four or more drinks per day. Methods are needed to incorporate the CAGE questions into primary care practices in a more systematic manner.