Résumé : Emotional facial expression (EFE) decoding skills have been shown to be impaired in recovering alcoholics (RA). The aim of the present study is to replicate these results and to explore whether these abnormalities are specific to alcoholism using two control groups: non-patient controls (NC) and patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OC). Twenty-two alcoholic patients at the end of their detoxification process (RA) were compared to 22 OC and 22 NC matched for age, sex and education level. They were presented with 12 photographs of facial expressions portraying different emotions: happiness; anger; and fear. Each emotion was displayed with mild (30%) and moderate (70%) intensity levels. Each EFE was judged on 8 scales labeled happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, surprise, shame and contempt. For each scale, subjects rated the estimated intensity level. RA were less accurate in EFE decoding than OC and NC, particularly for anger and happiness expressions. RA overestimated the emotional intensity for mild intensity level expressions compared with both OC and NC while no significant differences emerged for moderate intensity level expressions. Deficits in EFE decoding skills seem to be specific to RA when compared with OC. Comparison with other psychopathological groups is still needed. Possible consequences of EFE decoding deficits in RA include distorted interpersonal relationships. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.