This study presents an overview of Dutch studies on prevalence of alcohol use and adds findings from our own study on prevalence of drinking among adolescents and young adults aged 12-30 years in the Netherlands. Data were collected as part of a longitudinal study by the Netherlands Twin Register in 1993 (n = 3885), 1995 (n = 4814), 1997 (n = 3772) and 2000 (n = 4090). Measures included lifetime alcohol use, frequency of drinking, quantity of drinking, lifetime drunkenness, frequency of drunkenness and problem drinking. The main findings are: (a) alcohol use increased with age until the age of 25, after which it decreased; (b) males exceeded females on all aspects of alcohol use, with exception of the youngest age group and lifetime alcohol use; (c) time trends indicated an increase in frequency and quantity of drinking among 12-15-year-old adolescents during the 1990s; and moreover, (d) 21-25-year-old females drank more frequently, consumed more drinks a week, had more experience with lifetime drunkenness and were drunk more often in 2000 than in 1993. Among 21-25-year-old males, an increase of drunkenness and problem drinking was displayed during the 1990s. © 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.