Weanling, male Sprague-Dawley rats given 10% ethanol in the drinking water and food ad lib. for up to 8 weeks consumed 17% of their calories as ethanol. The alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and liver histology by light microscopy were unaffected by this treatment. Similarly, hepatic microsomal NADPH-cytochrome c reductase, ethylmorphine N-demethylase and benzphetamine N-demethylase activities were also not affected by ethanol consumption. On the other hand, cytochrome P-450 content, aniline hydroxylase activity and acetaminophen metabolism as measured by both the cysteine conjugate and the [3H]acetaminophen covalently-bound to microsomal protein were increased significantly by ethanol consumption. The maximal effect was seen by 6 weeks. The 2- to 3-fold increase in aniline and acetaminophen metabolism, the absence of liver damage, and the similarity in weight gains and caloric intakes for controls and treated animals suggest that the rat on 10% ethanol in the drinking water is a reasonable model for studies of the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on specific biochemical pathways.