The relationship between alcoholism and self-rated personality was explored in a community-ascertained sample of 303 male and 103 female alcoholics, and 304 male and 770 female nonalcoholics. Alcoholics met DSM-Ill-R lifetime criteria for alcohol dependence; personality was assessed using the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. Compared with controls, alcoholics scored significantly higher on all indicators of negative emotionality, and consistently lower on all indicators of constraint. Individual effect sizes were moderate in both the male and female samples. A subsample of severe male alcoholics, identified by cluster analysis, was characterized by relatively early onset of problem drinking and relatively high antisociality and familial loading of problem drinking; they were also more extreme than moderate male alcoholics on negative emotionality and constraint. When taken in aggregate, personality risk appears to be associated with a continuum of alcoholic risk such that individuals extreme in both negative emotionality and behavioral disinhibition have especially high rates of alcoholism.