This study investigated hippocampal volumes and cognitive functions in adult alcoholic patients with adolescent- or late-onset alcohol use. Twenty-one male alcohol dependent inpatients and 13 healthy male controls were enrolled in this study. Cranial magnetic resonance imaging to measure hippocampal volumes and neuropsychological tests were performed in week 4 of abstinence in the patients and controls. The patients were divided into two subgroups (adolescent- and late-onset subgroups) according to the onset age of alcohol use. Alcoholic patients in general had significantly smaller right hippocampal volumes than the healthy controls. Patients' immediate memory, attention, acquisition and working memory subtest scores were inferior to those of the controls. The right hippocampus was significantly smaller in adult alcoholic patients with adolescent-onset use compared to the controls and the late-onset group. There was no significant correlation between neuropsychological test scores and hippocampal volumes. Our results suggest that hippocampal volume loss might be a feature of adolescent-onset alcoholic patients rather than of late-onset ones. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.