1. The association between alcohol consumption and blood pressure was studied in 491 Government employees. The men, aged 21–45 years, volunteered to complete a health questionnaire and submitted to standardized measurements of blood pressure, heart rate and body size.
2. Average weekly alcohol consumption correlated with systolic pressure (r = 0.18, P < 0.001) but not with diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure increased progressively with increasing alcohol consumption with no obvious threshold effect. The effect of alcohol was independent of age, obesity (Quetelet's index) or cigarette smoking.
3. Results indicate that alcohol ranks close to obesity as a preventable cause of essential hypertension in the community.