Men who chronically abuse alcohol may display a spectrum of endocrine abnormalities including hypogonadism and feminization, with elevated serum estradiol and low serum testosterone. We examined factors that may result in disruption of hepatic sex hormone homeostasis in alcohol-fed male rats and possible consequences of such changes. Rats were fed alcohol-containing or isocaloric diets for 30, 60, and 90 days. In alcohol-fed rats, serum testosterone levels and hepatic activity of 2 androgen-dependent estrogen metabolizing enzymes were reduced (P < .05) at all times, as was activity of androgen receptor. There was also a significant early and progressive decrease in testes/body ratio in alcohol-fed rats. Compared with this early decrease in testosterone-related parameters, there was a significant increase in serum estrogen levels (at 30 and 90 days, 132% and 168% of control values, respectively). An increase in serum ceruloplasmin, an estrogen-responsive liver protein, was apparent at 60 and 90 days, but not at 30 days of alcohol exposure, suggesting that hypogonadism precedes liver feminization. Hepatic estrogen receptor activity was decreased in alcohol-fed rats at 60 and 90 days, the latter despite elevated serum estrogen levels. Hepatic aromatase was slightly increased in alcohol-fed rats, an elevation probably not sufficient to account for observed increases in serum estrogen. Taken together, these data suggest that (1) alcohol induces profound reduction of serum testosterone, resulting in loss of androgen-regulated hepatic functions such as estrogen-metabolizing enzyme activity and activity of androgen receptors; and (2) such alcohol-induced hypogonadism precedes changes in hepatic sex hormone homeostasis and subsequent feminization.