Aims: To identify suitable short versions of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and to evaluate their effectiveness as screening tests for 'risky drinking' among men and women in primary health care (PHC) settings. Methods: A total of 255 patients attending five PHC centres in Catalonia (Spain) were interviewed by clinicians regarding health status and drinking pattern. Patients also completed the AUDIT. Clinicians' diagnosis of risky drinking was used as a gold standard to evaluate the effectiveness of three forms of AUDIT. Results: AUDIT-3 and AUDIT-4 performed similarly to AUDIT-10 in detecting risky drinking and had equivalent receiver operating characteristics curves and their areas under the curve. Conclusions: Both short forms of AUDIT seem to be as effective as the full AUDIT for detecting risky drinking among men and women in PHC settings.