To determine whether blood alcohol concentrations achieved by ingestion of various alcoholic beverages differ as a function of prandial state, healthy male volunteers, aged 24 to 48 years, were given the same amount of alcohol (0.3 g/kg) as different beverages. The alcohol was consumed in three prandial states: postprandial (1 hr after a meal, n= 10), prandial (during the meal, n= 10), and preprandial (after an overnight fast, n= 9). Each subject was tested with both beer and whiskey, and in the postprandial state also with wine and sherry, in a within-subjects design. Blood alcohol concentrations were estimated by breath analysis for 4 hr or until concentrations reached zero. Peak blood alcohol levels were higher with beer than with whiskey in the postprandial and prandial conditions (p < 0.01), whereas the opposite was true in the preprandial state (p < 0.05). Similarly, the area under the blood alcohol curve was higher with beer in the prandial state (p < 0.05), and higher with whiskey in the preprandial condition (p < 0.01). Wine and sherry yielded peak concentrations intermediate between those of beer and whiskey in the postprandial state. The results indicate that a dilute alcoholic drink can yield either higher or lower blood alcohol levels than a concentrated beverage, depending on the prandial state.