BACKGROUND: Severe alcohol use is recognized as a major public health concern, even though light to moderate alcohol use might have beneficial effects on health. Alcohol use has been studied to some extent in solid organ transplant populations, yet evidence is lacking on alcohol use and its correlates in the renal transplant population. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the prevalence, severity and correlates of alcohol use in renal transplant recipients. METHODS: This cross-sectional study is a secondary analysis of the Supporting Medication Adherence in Renal Transplantation (SMART) study. Alcohol use was assessed by patient's self-report. At risk and binge drinkers were classified using World Health Organization criteria. The following correlates of alcohol use were explored: adherence with immunosuppression (Siegal questionnaire; electronic monitoring), smoking, coping style (UCL), depressive symptomatology (BDI) and busyness/routine in life style (ACQ Busyness Scale). RESULTS: Two hundred and eighty-four patients were included in this analysis, 58.1% male, with a mean age of 54 yr (range 20-84) and a median of seven (interquartile ranges [IQR] 8) yr post-transplantation. A total of 52.8% of study participants reported to drink alcohol at least once a week. Two hundred and eighty of 284 subjects (98.5%) were drinking at low risk, four at moderate risk (1.5%). None of the participants were drinking severely. Correlates of alcohol use were male gender and being professionally active. CONCLUSION: Alcohol use is less prevalent in renal transplant recipients than in the general population. Severe alcohol use does not seem to represent a serious problem in renal transplant patients.