AIMS:To determine (i) whether Australian adolescents' exposure to television alcohol advertisements changed between 1999 and 2011 and (ii) examine the association between television alcohol advertising and adolescent drinking behaviours. DESIGN:Cross-sectional surveys conducted every 3 years between 1999 and 2011. Analyses examined associations between advertising exposures and reported drinking. SETTING:Five Australian major cities. PARTICIPANTS:Students aged 12-17 years participating in a triennial nationally representative school-based survey residing in the television advertising markets associated with the major cities (sample size range per survey: 12 644-16 004). MEASUREMENTS:Outcome measures were: drinking in the past month, past week and past-week risky drinking (5+ drinks on a day). The key predictor variable was past-month adolescent-directed alcohol advertising Targeted Rating Points (TRPs, a measure of television advertising exposure). Control measures included student-level characteristics, government alcohol-control advertising TRPs, road safety (drink-driving) TRPs and time of survey. FINDINGS:Average monthly adolescent alcohol TRPs increased between 1999 (mean = 2371) to 2005 (mean = 2679) (P < 0.01) then decreased between 2005 and 2011: (mean = 880) (P < 0.01). Multi-level logistic regression analyses that adjusted for survey timing, student level factors and alcohol-control advertising variables showed a significant association between past-month alcohol TRPs and past-month drinking [odds ratio (OR) = 1.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.07-1.15), past-week drinking (OR = 1.10, 95% CI = 1.06-1.14) and past-week risky drinking (OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.09-1.22). Past-week risky drinking was associated inversely with road safety TRPs (OR = 0.69, 95% CI = 0.49-0.98). CONCLUSIONS:While Australian adolescents' exposure to alcohol advertising on television reduced between 1999 and 2011, higher levels of past-month television alcohol advertising were associated with an increased likelihood of adolescents' drinking. The reduction in television alcohol advertising in Australia in the late 2000s may have played a part in reducing adolescents' drinking prevalence.