After ingestion of a standardized dose of ethanol, alcohol concentrations were assessed, over 3.5 hours from blood (six readings) and breath (10 readings) in a sample of 412 MZ and DZ twins who took part in an Alcohol Challenge Twin Study (ACTS). Nearly all participants were subsequently genotyped on two polymorphic SNPs in the ADH1B and ADH1C loci known to affect in vitro ADH activity. In the DZ pairs, 14 microsatellite markers covering a 20.5 cM region on chromosome 4 that includes the ADH gene family were assessed, Variation in the timed series of autocorrelated blood and breath alcohol readings was studied using a bivariate simplex design. The contribution of a quantitative trait locus (QTL) or QTL's linked to the ADH region was estimated via a mixture of likelihoods weighted by identity-by-descent probabilities. The effects of allelic substitution at the ADH1B and ADH1C loci were estimated in the means part of the model simultaneously with the effects sex and age. There was a major contribution to variance in alcohol metabolism due to a QTL which accounted for about 64% of the additive genetic covariation common to both blood and breath alcohol readings at the first time point. No effects of the ADH1B*47His or ADH1C*349Ile alleles on in vivo metabolism were observed, although these have been shown to have major effects in vitro. This implies that there is a major determinant of variation for in vivo alcohol metabolism in the ADH region that is not accounted for by these polymorphisms. Earlier analyses of these data suggested that alcohol metabolism is related to drinking behavior and imply that this QTL may be protective against alcohol dependence. © 2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.