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Aims. To determine the contribution of familial, interpersonal, academic and early substance use factors to relative risk for an alcohol dependence (AD) diagnosis in adolescents. Methods. Information on 619 adolescents and their 390 sets of biological parents was obtained using the adolescent version of the Child Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (C-SSAGA) and the adult counterpart of this instrument, the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA). The C-SSAGA elicits a wide range of environmental, social, and psychiatric diagnostic information. Specific domain scale scores associated with an adolescent AD were computed, and generalized estimating equations (GEE) modeling was used to determine the odds ratio (relative risk) of the specified risk domains for an alcohol dependence diagnosis. Findings. Risk factors for a DSM-III-R AD diagnosis included being at least 16 years of age, as well as negative parent-child interactions, school and personal-related difficulties (including the presence of an externalizing or internalizing DSM-III-R non-alcohol-related diagnosis), and early experimentations with a variety of substances. Conclusions. An array of familial, interpersonal, academic and early substance use factors were strongly associated with adolescent AD. Given the findings of this study, further research to determine temporal relationships that might influence the onset of adolescent alcohol dependence is warranted.