Decisions on the final version of the DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence criteria will be determined largely by the APA's substance abuse field trials, conducted primarily in treated, clinical samples. Among the major objectives of the field trials are to study the boundaries between abuse and dependence, and to identify specific criteria that define the abuse category. The decisions on revisions of the abuse and dependence criteria in DSM-IV should, however, be informed by data from non-treated or general population samples as well. The present study addresses the field trial objectives using recent data from a large general population survey, the 1988 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS88). The paper reports on factor analyses to assess the dimensions underlying the DSM-III-R and DSM-IV dependence and abuse criteria as operationalized in the NHIS88. The focus of the analyses is on whether models with more than one dimension are needed and if so, the correspondence of the dimensions to criteria sets defined in the DSM-III-R and DSM-IV. The analyses show that a two-dimensional model is required. The dimensions are interpreted as abuse and dependence, but the sets of criteria that define each of the dimensions show important deviations from the criteria sets used in the DSM definitions.