BACKGROUND: Problem drinking, particularly risky single-occasion drinking is widespread among adolescents and young adults in most Western countries. Mobile phone text messaging allows a proactive and cost-effective delivery of short messages at any time and place and allows the delivery of individualised information at times when young people typically drink alcohol. The main objective of the planned study is to test the efficacy of a combined web- and text messaging-based intervention to reduce problem drinking in young people with heterogeneous educational level. METHODS/DESIGN: A two-arm cluster-randomised controlled trial with one follow-up assessment after 6 months will be conducted to test the efficacy of the intervention in comparison to assessment only. The fully-automated intervention program will provide an online feedback based on the social norms approach as well as individually tailored mobile phone text messages to stimulate (1) positive outcome expectations to drink within low-risk limits, (2) self-efficacy to resist alcohol and (3) planning processes to translate intentions to resist alcohol into action. Program participants will receive up to two weekly text messages over a time period of 3 months. Study participants will be 934 students from approximately 93 upper secondary and vocational schools in Switzerland. Main outcome criterion will be risky single-occasion drinking in the past 30 days preceding the follow-up assessment. DISCUSSION: This is the first study testing the efficacy of a combined web- and text messaging-based intervention to reduce problem drinking in young people. Given that this intervention approach proves to be effective, it could be easily implemented in various settings, and it could reach large numbers of young people in a cost-effective way.