Aims: Ghrelin is a peptide hormone that antagonizes the action of leptin and is thereby thought to regulate feeding behaviour. The actions of ghrelin and leptin appear to be mediated by the neuropeptide Y (NPY) and Agouti-related protein (AGRP) system. Recent studies have suggested that leptin and NPY play significant roles in the pathophysiology of alcoholism. The aim of this study was to determine whether ghrelin is associated with the state and duration of abstinence in individuals with alcohol dependence. Methods: Fasting plasma ghrelin levels were compared between 47 individuals with chronic alcoholism during a period of abstinence and 50 control subjects. Results: Fasting plasma ghrelin levels were higher in alcohol abstainers than those in controls. Furthermore, a positive correlation was observed between ghrelin levels and the duration of abstinence. In addition, daily alcohol intake prior to abstinence was inversely related to ghrelin levels. Conclusions: These findings suggest that ghrelin plays a role in the pathogenesis of alcohol dependence, particularly during the abstinence period, in individuals with chronic alcoholism.