The determination of carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) in serum has been found useful as a marker of increased alcohol consumption of > 60 g/day. It is not clear why the reference range is different for women (0 to 26 units/liter) and men (0 to 20 units/liter). We evaluated serum CDT in 286 healthy subjects (209 women, 77 men) using a commercially available radioimmunoassay. Premenopausal women had higher CDT levels than postmenopausal women, whereas no age-related difference of CDT levels was found in men. In postmenopausal women, higher CDT levels were associated with estrogen replacement therapy. In premenopausal women, however, neither the phase of the menstrual cycle nor contraceptive steroid use showed a significant association with the increase in CDT levels. No significant correlations were found between CDT and either serum estradiol or serum iron. In conclusion, both premenopausal state and postmenopausal estrogen replacement therapy seem to increase serum levels of CDT. Therefore, menopausal status and exogenous estrogens should be considered when interpreting CDT values in women.