The relationship between alcohol intake over the week preceding anesthesia and various anesthetic parameters was examined in 119 women scheduled for termination of pregnancy under thiopental-nitrous oxide anesthesia. In terms of pure alcohol, the weekly intake was 1.03 +/- 1.09 ml.kg-1 (mean +/- s.d.), range 0-5.93, i.e. below average consumption in Denmark. Alcohol intake was negatively correlated with anesthetic sleeping time (P less than 0.01). Time and quality of anesthesia induction and frequency of anesthetic complications were not significantly correlated with the use of alcohol. Preanesthetic anxiety was not significantly correlated with any of the above data. Induction time and postoperative awareness were positively and sleeping time negatively correlated with age (P less than 0.05). The results indicate cross-tolerance between alcohol and thiopental, even when the regular intake of the former is low, and increasing thiopental requirements with increasing age.