Background: Alcohol consumption has been causally related to the incidence of coronary heart disease, but the role of alcohol before the event has not been explored in depth. This study tested the hypothesis that heavy drinking (binge drinking) increases the risk of subsequent acute myocardial infarctions (AMI), whereas light to moderate drinking occasions decrease the risk. Methods: Case-crossover design of 250 incident AMI cases in Switzerland, with main hypotheses tested by conditional logistic regression. Results: Alcohol consumption 12 h before the event significantly increased the risk of AMI (OR 3.1; 95% CI 1.4-6.9). Separately, the effects of moderate and binge drinking before the event on AMI were of similar size but did not reach significance. In addition, AMI patients showed more binge drinking than comparable control subjects from the Swiss general population. Conclusions: We found no evidence that alcohol consumption before the event had protective effects on AMI. Instead, alcohol consumption increased the risk.