AIMS: To test if there is relationship between alcohol consumption and pancreatitis mortality at the population level. DATA AND METHODS: Annual pancreatitis death rates for 1950-95 were converted into age-adjusted mortality rates per 100,000 inhabitants. Per capita alcohol consumption was measured by alcohol sales. The relationship was estimated with time-series analysis on data from 14 western countries. Several models were tested with different assumptions about risk function and lag structure. RESULTS: According to the assumed most appropriate model, a positive relationship was found in each country, and statistical significance was reached in all countries except from Finland, Italy and Canada. The magnitude of the association was fairly consistent across countries, with the alcohol effect parameters ranging between 0.05 and 0.14. However, Sweden and Norway deviated from this pattern with estimates between 0.30 and 0.40. CONCLUSIONS: Pancreatitis joins a wide range of causes of death where the mortality rate is influenced by per capita alcohol consumption, and more so in northern Europe. It is suggested that pancreatitis mortality is an important indicator of alcohol-related harm, not least because a large amount of morbidity is likely to be connected to the mortality rate.