The effects of aging and chronic ethanol administration on the histochemical and morphometric features of rat superior cervical ganglion were studied in a rat strain selected for voluntary alcohol consumption. Ethanol was administered to the experimental group ad libitum (10% v/v in drinking water) from 3 months to 28 months of age, the average ethanol intake being 6.4-5.4 g/kg per day. The sympathetic neurons of the ethanol consuming rats showed several signs of enhanced degeneration, e.g. decreased neuronal packing density, increased amount of age-pigment and decreased intensity of catecholamine histofluorescence and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity. The results may indicate a selective vulnerability of peripheral sympathetic neurons rather than a universal accelerated aging due to chronic ethanol exposure.