The authors prospectively studied the association between quantity and type of alcohol intake and risk of hip fracture among 17,868 men and 13,917 women. Analyses were based on pooled data from three population studies conducted in 1964-1992 in Copenhagen, Denmark. During follow-up, 500 first hip fractures were identified in women and 307 in men. A low to moderate weekly alcohol intake (1-27 drinks for men and 1-13 drinks for women) was not associated with hip fracture. Among men, the relative risk of hip fracture gradually increased for those who drank 28 drinks or more per week (relative risk (RR) = 1.75, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06-2.89 for 28-41 drinks; RR = 5.28, 95% CI 2.60-10.70 for 70 or more drinks) as compared with abstainers. Women who drank 14-27 drinks per week had an age-adjusted relative risk of hip fracture of 1.44 (95% CI 1.03-2.03), but the association weakened after adjustment for confounders (RR = 1.32, 95% CI 0.92-1.87). The risk of hip fracture differed according to the type of alcohol preferred: preferrers of beer had a higher risk of hip fracture (RR = 1.46, 95% CI 1.11-1.91) than preferrers of other types of alcoholic beverages. The corresponding relative risks for preferrers of wine and spirits were 0.77 (95% CI 0.58-1.03) and 0.82 (95% CI 0.58-1.14), respectively. In conclusion, an alcohol intake within the current European drinking limits does not influence the risk of hip fracture, whereas an alcohol intake of more than 27 drinks per week is a major risk factor for men.