Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is used as a marker of astrocyte response to various central nervous system injuries. In the present study, the effects of chronic ethanol administration on GFAP immunoreactivity were evaluated in astrocytes of the adult optic nerve head. The results demonstrated that ethanol exposure significantly and dramatically increases GFAP immunoreactivity and the number of immunoreactive astrocytes (p<0.001). In addition, GFAP immunoreactive cells in the optic nerve showed extensive hypertrophy (p<0.001). (C) 2004 International Federation for Cell Biology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.