The alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) is widely used in general population surveys as a method of determining prevalence of hazardous drinking. However, its interpretation has been questioned particularly regarding the unequal contribution of the items to the total score, specifically, that the drinking frequency item contributes disproportionately to the score and may lead to inappropriate identification of some drinkers as hazardous drinkers. To explore these issues further as well as possible gender differences in the applicability of the AUDIT, we conducted analyses using a modified version of the AUDIT (AUDIT(M)) as part of a general population survey that used random digit dialing and computer-assisted telephone interviewing. Item and factor analyses were performed separately for men and women, and the impacts of excluding the frequency of drinking item in the measurement of mean scores, percentages and types of problems for men and women were examined. We found that the AUDIT(M) items loaded onto three distinct dimensions for both men and women: frequency of drinking; usual quantity and frequency of heavy-episodic drinking; problem consequences from drinking. In addition, we found that excluding the frequency question may give a more meaningful estimate of the percent of drinkers actually at risk of experiencing problems from drinking for both men and women. Finally, although our analyses identified only minor gender differences in the structure of the AUDIT and good sensitivity for identifying problem drinkers among both men and women, significant gender differences in the types of problems experienced suggest that use and interpretation of the AUDIT should routinely take gender into consideration.