Genetic variables have been implicated as contributing factors in the development of alcoholic behavior. Rats bred selectively for alcohol preference have been used in laboratory studies to investigate the role of such variables. In the present study, rats from the alcohol preferring (P) line were placed in operant chambers in which food pellets, water, and 10% ethanol (v/v) were available continuously for 23 hr/day. Food pellets (45 mg) were presented on an FR 1 schedule of reinforcement, while ethanol was presented in a 0.1 ml dipper on an FR 4 schedule of reinforcement. Water was available in a drinking tube with licks monitored by a drinkometer. Data were analyzed in terms of both total daily intakes and computer defined bouts. The P rats showed greater daily ethanol intakes compared with Long-Evans (LE) animals previously studied under similar access conditions. The major difference in intake was a result of the P rats having a greater number of daily ethanol drinking bouts, while having only a slight increase in individual bout size. These data indicate that genetic selection for ethanol preference may result in the regulation of ethanol intake by means of changes in the frequency of ethanol drinking bouts but not by changes in bout size.