AIMS The aim of our study was to determine serum levels of advanced glycation end-products (AGE) in patients with chronic alcohol misuse and to examine their relationship to markers of nutrition and inflammation. METHODS The study group consisted of 23 heavy alcohol drinkers treated for chronic alcohol misuse and 22 healthy controls. Studied parameters included AGE (fluorescence, CML - carboxymethyllysine and pentosidine), lipids, glucose, albumin, leptin, prealbumin, C-reactive protein (CRP) and pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A). RESULTS AGE fluorescence was significantly higher in chronic alcoholic patients than in healthy subjects (4.3 +/- 0.7 x 10(3) vs 3.7 +/- 0.5 x 10(3) AU/g protein, P < 0.005), while CML was only slightly but not significantly elevated (569.1 +/- 106.6 vs 545.5 +/- 85.8 microg/l) and pentosidine levels did not differ (105.4 +/- 29 vs 102.2 +/- 23 nmol/l). In alcoholics, AGE correlate significantly negatively with leptin (r = -0.46, P < 0.05) and pentosidine with prealbumin (r = -0.43, P < 0.05), otherwise there was no relationship between AGE and other biochemical parameters (glucose, cholesterol, albumin, CRP, PAPP-A). CONCLUSION Our findings suggest a more complex relationship among advanced glycation, oxidative stress and metabolism of ethanol and their link to nutrition and nutrition-associated parameters. AGE as a result of oxidative stress might be similarly linked to increased cardiovascular risk of heavy alcohol drinkers, as are malnutrition and inflammation; however, further studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.