Abstract: Ethanol-inducible cytochrome P4502E1 is the main pathway in the non-alcohol dehydrogenase oxidation of ethanol. Its coding gene, CYP2E1, is polymorphic at the Rsa I restriction site in the 5′-flanking region. The mutant genotype c2c2 has a higher transcriptional activity than the genotypes c1c1 or c1c2. Heavy drinkers carrying the c2 allele might be at a higher risk of alcoholic cirrhosis since they might synthesize greater amounts of acetaldehyde, the compound believed responsible for hepatotoxicity of ethanol. With the aim of establishing if the c2 allele increases the risk of cirrhosis in heavy drinkers, we studied 58 (6 female) chronic heavy drinkers with liver cirrhosis and 137 healthy normal controls of the same ethnic (white Spaniards) origin. After extraction of DNA from white blood cells, alleles c1 and c2 of CYP2E1 were identified by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) with endonuclease Rsa I. Fifty-six patients and 130 controls were classified as homozygous c1c1 and two and seven, respectively, as heterozygous c1c2. No homozygous c2c2 were detected. The c2 allele frequencies were 0.017 in patients and 0.026 in controls (non-significant differences). We conclude that the Rsa I RFLP polymorphism is probably not related to the risk of cirrhosis in Spanish heavy drinkers.