Alcohol use during early adolescence is associated with other risk behaviors as well as future health problems. Within the design of a larger prospective research program, a cohort of U.S. inner-city sixth-grade students (N = 1573, mean age = 12.10) were assessed and reassessed in the seventh-grade. Self-reported information was obtained on problems related to alcohol, fixed markers of risk (e.g. sex, age, SES), individual and interpersonal factors (e.g. internalizing and externalizing symptoms) and contextual factors (e.g. substance availability). Alcohol-related problems in seventh grade were foremost predicted by individual and interpersonal factors in the sixth grade including depressive symptoms, conduct problems, a decreased perception of wrongdoing, and affiliation with delinquent peers. In addition, alcohol use in the sixth grade and being of Hispanic or White ethnicity was also associated with subsequent alcohol-related problems. Interventions should be directed towards assessing and treating individual risk factors such as depression and externalizing symptoms.