Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which results from ethanol exposure during pregnancy, and alcohol use disorder (AUD), which includes both binge and chronic alcohol abuse, are strikingly common and costly at personal and societal levels. These disorders are associated with significant pathology, including that observed in the CNS. It is now appreciated in both humans and animal models that ethanol can induce inflammation in the CNS. Neuroinflammation is hypothesized to contribute to the neuropathologic and behavioral consequences in FASD and AUD. In this review, we: 1) summarize the evidence of alcohol-induced CNS inflammation, 2) outline cellular and molecular mechanisms that may underlie alcohol induction of CNS inflammation, and 3) discuss the potential of nuclear receptor agonists for prevention or treatment of neuropathologies associated with FASD and AUD.