Recovering alcoholic fathers with a positive family history of alcoholism and their 10-15 year-old sons were assessed on a variety of personality measures and compared to a matched group of nonalcoholic fathers with a negative family history of alcoholism, and their sons. Assessment instruments for the sons included the Personality Inventory for Children, High School Personality Questionnaire, Junior Eysenck Personality Inventory and the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire. Comparable questionnaires were administered to the fathers: the MMPI, 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire, Eysenck Personality Inventory and the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire. No psychopathology or extreme personality variants were observed in either fathers' or sons' groups. However, MANOVAS and linear discriminant functions revealed significant differences on several personality measures between fathers' and sons' groups. Compared to sons of nonalcoholics, sons of alcoholics were relatively more compulsive, insecure and fearful while being more subdued and detached. The recovering alcoholics were more impulsive and regimented than the nonalcoholics. An index resulting from the combination of the best personality discriminators was significantly correlated in father-son pairs. In addition, this index was significantly correlated with key neurocognitive variables from our previous study which assessed the same father-son pairs. This atypical CNS profile, encompassing altered electrophysiology, neuropsychological performance and personality traits, may be useful in identifying those at increased risk for developing alcoholism.