Objective: Motivational models of alcohol consumption suggest a positive relationship between reasons for drinking and the amount of alcohol consumed. The present study examined race, gender, and age as moderators of the relationship between social and coping motives and alcohol misuse in black and white adolescents. Method: A representative population sample (N = 699) of male and female (54%) adolescents between the ages of 13 and 16 was recruited using a random-digit-dial telephone procedure. Six face-to-face interviews with subjects and their families were carried out at approximately yearly intervals. Information gathered assessed alcohol use, social and coping motives for drinking, and psychological distress. Results: Multiple analyses, including both cross-sectional and longitudinal logistic regression analyses and survival analysis were used to examine the relationship of drinking motives to adolescent alcohol misuse. Contrary to our predictions, social motive was a somewhat better predictor of alcohol misuse than was coping motive, particularly during mid- to late adolescence. However, there was some limited evidence of a significant relationship between coping motives and alcohol misuse in the mid-adolescent age group. Some support was found for racial differences such that social motives are better predictors of alcohol misuse among whites than among blacks and coping motives are better predictors among blacks. Few gender differences were found in the relationship of drinking motives and alcohol misuse. Conclusions: These findings suggest a stronger tendency for social and coping motives to influence alcohol misuse during mid to late than in early adolescence. Research examining the development of motives and the mechanisms by which they influence drinking behavior is needed.