Pairs of college student subjects (36 male, 36 female) were matched on age, sex, and personal drinking history. One pair member had a parent who met the DSM III criteria of alcoholism, while the other pair member had no close alcoholic relative. The P300 event-related brain potential (ERP) was obtained from each subject with auditory stimuli in an "oddball" paradigm. Target stimuli occurred randomly on 20% of the trials in a frequency discrimination task, a relatively easy intensity discrimination task, and a more difficult intensity discrimination task. Subjects indicated when the target items occurred by moving their index finger. No significant overall effects were obtained for family history for either P300 latency or amplitude. P300 latency increased and amplitude decreased with increases in the reported amount of alcohol consumption in all subjects only for the difficult intensity task but were statistically significant only for individuals with a negative family history for alcoholism.