Based on anecdotal impressions, there is a common clinical perception that alcoholics with liver disease do not develop cardiomyopathy and that those with alcohol-induced cardiac disease are spared cirrhosis. To determine the relationship between alcoholic cardiomyopathy and cirrhosis, we carried out a prospective cross-sectional study that included: (1) 30 alcoholic men with cardiomyopathy; (2) 30 alcoholic men without cardiomyopathy (left ventricular ejection fraction > 55%); (3) 20 actively drinking alcoholics with cirrhosis; (4) 15 abstaining alcoholics with cirrhosis; and (5) 15 nonalcoholics with cirrhosis of other etiologies. Cirrhosis was observed in 13 of 30 patients with alcoholic cardiomyopathy (43%), compared with 2 of 30 alcoholics without cardiomyopathy (6%) (P < .001). Ten of the 20 active alcoholics with cirrhosis (50%) showed evidence of dilated cardiomyopathy. Actively drinking alcoholics with cirrhosis had a significantly lower mean ejection fraction and shortening fraction, as well as a greater mean end-diastolic diameter and left ventricular mass than abstaining alcoholics with cirrhosis. Cardiac studies of patients with nonalcoholic cirrhosis were normal. We conclude that a positive correlation exists between alcoholic cardiomyopathy and cirrhosis. Alcoholics admitted solely for cardiomyopathy have a higher prevalence of cirrhosis than unselected alcoholics without heart disease. Actively drinking alcoholics admitted only for cirrhosis show impaired cardiac performance, whereas abstaining alcoholics with liver disease tend to manifest normal cardiac function.