AIMS: To investigate differences and similarities in college students' drinking motives in Spain and in Hungary. METHODS: A total of 550 Spanish (mean age 22.7, SD = 3.2) and 997 Hungarian (mean age 22.4, SD = 2.7) college students completed the Drinking Motive Questionnaire Revised Short Form (DMQ-R SF) and answered other alcohol-related questions. Data were analyzed by confirmatory factor analysis, t-test and structural equation modeling. RESULTS: The DMQ-R SF demonstrated good psychometric properties in both countries. The rank order of the motives (social > enhancement > coping > conformity) was identical in the two countries. However, Hungarian students scored higher on enhancement, social and coping motives than Spanish students. In both the Hungarian and the Spanish population, enhancement motives were associated with drinking frequency and drunkenness, while coping motives were associated with alcohol-related problems. Among Spanish students, a significant relationship was found between alcohol-related problems and enhancement motives as well. CONCLUSION: Despite the substantial differences in the drinking culture of both countries, drinking motives showed overwhelming similarities (e.g. rank order of motives and the particular relationships between motives and alcohol outcomes). Only few differences (e.g. Hungarian college students indicated a higher level of motives) were found in cross-national comparison. Our results imply that programs targeting risky drinking motives are likely to be successfully adapted to different drinking cultures in Europe.