Ethanol-induced intoxication and hypothermia were studied in rats approximately 7 months after severe thiamine deficiency, when treated rats appeared to have recovered their physical health. Previously induced thiamine deficiency without prior ethanol exposure significantly decreased the area under the curve plotted for the concentration of ethanol in blood and also decreased behavioral impairment and hypothermia due to ethanol exposure. Pathophysiologic changes resulting from thiamine deficiency may contribute to both the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic tolerance to ethanol in chronic alcoholics.