The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of experimental alcohol intake and associated factors in early adolescence. The overall sample consisted of 4,452 adolescents (mean age = 11.3 years; SD = 0.3) from the 1993 birth cohort in Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. Experimental use of alcohol was reported by 17.5% of the interviewees (95%CI: 16.3-18.6), and 5% reported having tried alcohol at nine years of age or younger. Prevalence of experimental alcohol use was higher among adolescents whose mothers had consumed alcohol during pregnancy, whose parents consumed alcohol, who worked outside the home themselves, and who had ever tried smoking. Family strife, parental alcohol intake, and adolescent smoking were strong predictors of experimental alcohol use in early adolescence. Special attention should be targeted to these groups in order to avoid heavy and premature alcohol use in early adolescence.