To assess the prevalence of alcoholism among people admitted to hospital 303 patients completed a drinking questionnaire. A total of 59 (19.5%) were found to have a drinking problem, which constituted a sixfold greater prevalence than recorded in a community survey using the same technique. The drinkers were mostly men and tended to be younger than the non-drinkers and to smoke more heavily, live in more crowded conditions, and be of lower social class. Significantly more of the drinkers had at least one parent who was an alcoholic. The results confirm that hospital inpatients comprise a larger proportion of alcoholics than found in the general population. Hence medical staff should be alert to such patients, so that treatment may be initiated at an early stage of social decompensation.