The aims of this study were to: (1) document women's alcohol use over a 5-year period; (2) compare different measures of alcohol consumption such as high alcohol consumption (HAC) and high episodic drinking (HED); (3) to follow the incidence and course of alcohol dependence and abuse (ADA). The study is part of a longitudinal general population-based study, Women and Alcohol in Göteborg. From a stratified random sample of 479 respondents, 399 were interviewed in the first wave (1989/90). In the second wave (1995/96), 386 of the 479 women were available for a follow-up interview. The 12-month prevalence of ADA was 1.3% in both waves. In the longitudinal analysis the 5-year cumulative incidence of ADA was 0.1%. Two new cases of ADA were found. The prevalence of HAC and HED decreased in women of all ages except HED in women born in 1955. We conclude that the 12-month prevalence of ADA remained the same at the 5-year follow-up and that, in contrast to what has been found in some other studies, there was an overall decrease in HAC and in HED.