Liver diseases contribute markedly to the global burden of mortality and disease. This paper provides an overview from a global perspective of the contribution of alcohol to liver diseases. The Global Burden of Disease study methodology was used to estimate the burden of alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis and alcohol-attributable liver cancer in 2010 as measured by deaths and disability adjusted life years (DALYs). This methodology estimates attributable fractions based on alcohol exposure distribution and relative risks associated with different levels of drinking. Globally, in 2010, alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis was responsible for 493,300 deaths (156,900 female deaths and 336,400 male deaths) and 14,544,000 DALYs (4,112,000 DALYs for women and 10,432,000 DALYs for men), representing 0.9% (0.7% for women and 1.2% for men) of all global deaths and 0.6% (0.4% for women and 0.8% for men) of all global DALYs, and 47.9% of all liver cirrhosis deaths (46.5% for women and 48.5% for men) and 46.9% of all liver cirrhosis DALYs (44.5% for women and 47.9% for men). Alcohol-attributable liver cancer was responsible for 80,600 deaths (14,800 female deaths and 65,900 male deaths) and 2,142,000 DALYs (335,000 DALYs for women and 1,807,000 DALYs for men). The burden of alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis and liver cancer is high and entirely preventable. Interventions to reduce alcohol consumption are recommended as a population health priority and may range from taxation increases for alcoholic beverages to increases in screening and treatment rates for alcohol use disorders. Copyright © 2013 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.