The role of neuromodulatory peptides in the aetiology of alcoholism has been relatively under-explored; however, the development of selective ligands for neuropeptide receptors, the characterization and cloning of receptors, and the development of transgenic mouse models have greatly facilitated this analysis. The present review considers the most recent preclinical evidence obtained from animal models for the role of two of the opioid peptides, namely b-endorphin and enkephalin; corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), urocortin I and neuropeptide Y (NPY) in deleterious and excessive alcohol consumption, focussing on specific brain regions, in particular the central nucleus of the amygdala, that appear to be implicated in the pathophysiology of alcoholism. The review also outlines potential directions for further research to clarify neuropeptide involvement in neuromodulation within discrete brain nuclei pertinent to behavioural patterns.