OBJECTIVE: To examine the cross-sectional ecologic associations between apparent per-capita alcohol consumption, alcohol-related hospital admission rates, and the distributions of socio-demographic factors for people residing in 76 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Victoria, during the 1995-1996 fiscal year. METHOD: Visitor-adjusted per-capita alcohol consumption was obtained from wholesale sales data from the Liquor Licensing Commission Victoria. Alcohol-related hospital admission rates were extracted from the Victorian Inpatient Minimum Dataset, and adjusted by the appropriate aetiologic fractions. Summary socio-demographic measures were derived from the 1996 Census. Their associations were analysed using multiple linear regression. RESULTS: Per-capita alcohol consumption ranged from 4 to 14 litres absolute alcohol/year and alcohol-related hospital admission rates ranged from 5 to 25 per 10,000 residents/year (external-cause diagnoses) and 8-37 per 10,000 residents/year (disease diagnoses). Higher levels of per-capita consumption were associated with higher admission rates (r = 0.45 for external cause diagnoses, r = 0.66 for disease diagnoses, and r = 0.70 for all diagnoses), each per-capita increase of one litre/year corresponding to increased admission rates of 0.6, 1.5 and 2.1 per 10,000 person-years, respectively. Further adjustments by summary socio-demographic measures reduced, but did not modify, the associations between per-capita consumption and admission rates. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Summary measures of sales-based per-capita alcohol consumption and socio-demographic environments may provide useful indicators of alcohol-related morbidity in Victorian communities.