Red blood cell proton relaxation times T1 and T2 were measured in samples from chronic alcoholic patients abstinent for varying periods from 1 week to over 6 months. T1 and T2 were elevated in the early stages of abstinence and declined to the values of controls after 8 weeks. Changes in the water content of the red blood cells and the mean corpuscular volume paralleled these changes but were more closely associated with T2. It is suggested that T1 and T2 may reflect different aspects in water content and free-to-bound ratio of water. The significance of these findings is discussed in the context of changes previously observed in the brains of alcoholic patients, and in rats fed a diet supplemented with alcohol for 6 months.