Alcoholism is a frequent and underdiagnosed mental health problem of later life. Its detection often relies on the use of screening instruments such as the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST). The authors investigated the properties of the scale in a sample of 122 older adults recruited from a geriatric outpatient service in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Thirty-five subjects met criteria for the diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence according to DSM-III-R. The cutoff point 4/5 was associated with a sensitivity of 91.4% specificity, of 83.9%, and positive and negative predictive values of 69.6% and 96.0%, respectively. These results indicate that the MAST is a good screening test for the detection of alcohol abuse and dependence in an elderly male population and that the MAST should be used in combination with a questionnaire assessing the frequency-quantity of alcohol consumption to optimize the detection of cases and characterize their current drinking patterns.