We report on the feasibility and perceived acceptability of brief motivational interviewing for hazardous alcohol use in an urban Aboriginal health service. General practitioners (GPs) were trained in brief motivational interviewing, and health workers in other aspects of the intervention. Screening was initially carried out using the AUDIT, but subsequently reduced to two simple questions. Information was obtained through a combination of participant observation by the study team, ongoing ad hoc review and feedback from staff, periodic group meetings, and one-on-one interviews with health workers and GPs. The AUDIT was felt to be intrusive and some questions were poorly understood. Brief intervention seemed to be culturally appropriate, but barriers to wider administration included lack of time and the complexity of patients' presenting health problems. As a result of the research there was an increase in general awareness and acceptability of addressing alcohol issues at the health service. This study raises a number of issues that both support and threaten the wide implementation of brief intervention in urban Aboriginal primary care settings.