BACKGROUND The purpose of the study was to identify and to profile alcohol-related attendances to emergency rooms (ERs) of 11 hospitals of various medical specialties covering a large urban population, to assess risk factors associated with short-stay cases, repeat attendances and higher degree of alcohol consumption and to estimate their impact on the alcohol-related burden at ERs. METHODS A 6-months study was carried out to obtain clinical and administrative data on single and multiple attendances at ERs in 11 governmental acute hospitals in a large city in Germany. All alcohol-related attendances at ERs of study hospitals were eligible. A broad definition of alcohol-related attendances independently from alcohol diagnosis and various demographic, clinical and administrative measures were used. Odds ratios for the associations of these measures with duration of stay, repeat attendances and higher degrees of alcohol consumption were derived from multivariate binomial and multinomial logistic regression models. RESULTS 1,748 patients with symptoms of alcohol consumption or withdrawal (inclusion rate 83.8%) yielded 2,372 attendances (3% of all medical admissions), and resulted in 12,629 inpatient-days. These patients accounted for 10.7 cases per 1,000 inhabitants. The average duration of inpatient stay was 10 days. 1,451 of all patients (83%) presented once, whereas the median of repeat attendances was three for the remaining 297 patients. Short-stay cases (<24 hours) were significantly linked with male gender, alcohol misuse, trauma (or suspicion of a trauma) and medical specialties. Increased levels of alcohol consumption at first attendance were significantly associated with repeat attendances in due course. In a multinomial logistic regression model higher degrees of alcohol consumption were significantly associated with male gender, trauma, short-stays, attendance outside regular working time, and with repeat attendances and self-discharge. CONCLUSION Apart from demographic factors, the alcohol-related clinical burden is largely determined by short-stay cases, repeat attendances and cases with higher levels of alcohol consumption at first attendance varying across medical specialties. These findings could be relevant for the planning of anti-alcoholic interventions at ERs.