Gene variants encoding several of the alcohol-metabolizing enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), are among the largest genetic associations with risk for alcohol dependence. Certain genetic variants (i.e., alleles)--particularly the ADH1B*2, ADH1B*3, ADH1C*1, and ALDH2*2 alleles--have been associated with lower rates of alcohol dependence. These alleles may lead to an accumulation of acetaldehyde during alcohol metabolism, which can result in heightened subjective and objective effects. The prevalence of these alleles differs among ethnic groups; ADH1B*2 is found frequently in northeast Asians and occasionally Caucasians, ADH1B*3 is found predominantly in people of African ancestry, ADH1C*1 varies substantially across populations, and ALDH2*2 is found almost exclusively in northeast Asians. Differences in the prevalence of these alleles may account at least in part for ethnic differences in alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, these alleles do not act in isolation to influence the risk of AUD. For example, the gene effects of ALDH2*2 and ADH1B*2 seem to interact. Moreover, other factors have been found to influence the extent to which these alleles affect a person's alcohol involvement, including developmental stage, individual characteristics (e.g., ethnicity, antisocial behavior, and behavioral undercontrol), and environmental factors (e.g., culture, religion, family environment, and childhood adversity).