Ascorbic acid levels are commonly reported to be decreased in alcoholics. Although this deficiency could be due to dietary factors, there is evidence that ascorbic acid may be involved in the metabolism and acute effects of ethanol, possibly related to the pathogenesis of alcoholism. Therefore, we examined ethanol preference in guinea pigs receiving an ascorbate deficient vs a normal diet. Brain and spleen ascorbic acid levels were dramatically decreased, but ethanol preference was not altered by the acute dietary deficiency of this vitamin. In addition, an acute stressor (cold water swim), alone or in combination with ascorbate deficiency, had no effect on ethanol preference. At termination of the experiment, two measures of brain aminergic function (MAO activity and 3H-spiroperidol binding), purportedly altered by ethanol or ascorbic acid or both, were not associated with tissue ascorbate levels.