Aim. To examine the extent to which drink driving and criminal behaviour would predict receipt of disability pension and high sickness absence rates in young and middle-aged men. Design and setting. A total of 8122 mandatory conscripts, born in 1950 or 1951, from the County of Stockholm were followed in a 22-year longitudinal study. Information was collected at the time of conscription for military service in 1969 and 1970. Data were linked to records on driving while intoxicated (DWI) and other criminal offences between 1970 and 1991 and to information from the Social Insurance Board. Findings. A total of 211 (2.6%) conscripts were granted a disability pension during the follow-up period between 1970 and 1991, and another 373 (4.6%) conscripts had high sickness absence (at least 180 sick days between 1989 and 1991). A total of 642 men had one or more DWI offences from the time of conscription until 1992. The median number of sick-days/sick-listed between 1989 and 1991 was 35.0 for men who were problem drinkers at conscription, 60.3 for drink drivers, 31.0 for men with less serious and 53.0 for men with serious crimes, compared to 21.0 days for the group as whole. In bivariate regression analysis, drink driving implied a relative risk (RR) of a disability pension/high sickness absence of 3.4 (95% CI: 2.8-4.1), and criminality a RR of 3.6 (95% CI: 3.1-4.1). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, controlling for psychosocial factors from conscription and for criminality, drink driving remained a strong predictor (RR 2.1, 95% CI: 1.7-2.7). Conclusions. Problem drinking, drink driving and criminality are important risk factors for receipt of disability pension and high levels of sickness absence in young men. The findings suggest that preventive efforts undertaken at the time of conscription and during later military service may pay dividends in terms of preventing problems later in life.