To determine the effect of life-long alcohol consumption on the adult and aged rat model, 4-week-old, female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three diet groups. Alcohol-treated animals were fed a modified Lieber-DeCarli diet ad libitum containing 35% ethanol-derived calories, whereas the pair-fed animals (weight-matched to ethanol rats) received an isocaloric liquid diet in which maltose-dextrin substituted calories supplied by ethanol. Chow animals were fed a standard rat chow ad libitum. Proximal tibiae (primarily cancellous bone) and femora (primarily cortical bone) were removed for analysis after 3, 6, 9, 12, or 18 months on the diets. Serum was collected for analysis of calcium levels, the calcium regulating hormones; parathyroid hormone, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, calcitonin, cor-ticosterone, estradiol, testosterone, and IGF-1. Creatinine, SGOT/ AST, and SGPT/ALT levels were measured to determine kidney and liver integrity. Previous studies, with young animals, showed that chronic alcohol consumption during the age of bone development reduced bone density and bone mass in both cortical and cancellous bone. The present study demonstrates that these reductions last throughout life, whereas morphological values, such as length and diameter, attain control levels. Calcium regulating hormones and sex hormones are essentially normal and do not appear to be the primary causative agent for adult alcohol-induced osteopenia, but it appears to be due to a more direct effect of alcohol on bone cells.