OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to describe the course of alcoholism among men in the Lundby community cohort. METHOD: A subset (N = 41) of initially nonalcoholic male subjects were diagnosed by a psychiatrist as first incidence alcoholics (alcohol abuse and/or dependence) during the period 1957-72, all of whom have been followed through four waves of investigation between 1947 and 1993. RESULTS: The proportion of remission of the entire 41 former alcoholic subjects was 39%. Of the 23 survivors, 52% were remitted. The recovery started at age 30-39 and culminated at age 40-49. CONCLUSIONS: In this 40-year follow-up of former alcoholics, stable remissions were shown to occur at a rate of approximately 40% (50% in survivors). Critical variables were severity and the subjects' age at the time of recovery. The results are tentative because of the small number of individuals.