OBJECTIVE:The aim of the present study was to test the link between exposure to parental alcohol use (i.e., preteens seeing their parents drinking) and preteen's alcohol use. Specifically, this study aimed to (a) replicate the association between parental alcohol use and preteen alcohol use and (b) test whether alcohol use exposure mediated this association. METHOD:Families were recruited from five regions in the Netherlands from 104 schools that agreed to participate. Preteens (N = 755, Mage = 11.27, SD = 0.56, 45.8% boys) and their mothers (N = 755) participated in the study. Preteens reported lifetime alcohol use and parental alcohol use exposure. Mothers reported on alcohol use for both parents. Structural Equation Modelling was used to assess direct and mediated paths between parental alcohol use, preteen's exposure to alcohol use and preteen alcohol use in one model. RESULTS:Unexpectedly, father's alcohol use was negatively associated (β = -0.121, p = .012) and mother's alcohol use was not associated (β = 0.056, p = .215) with preteen's alcohol use. A positive indirect effect emerged through alcohol use exposure, showing that exposure to father's alcohol use mediated the association between parent's and preteen's alcohol use (β = 0.064, p = .001). This effect was absent for mother's alcohol use (β = 0.026, p = .264). Gender differences were non-significant. CONCLUSIONS:Parental alcohol exposure positively mediated the association of parental alcohol use with preteen's alcohol use. These effects were found for both boys and girls and were most robust for father's drinking. The findings might provide clues for preventive action, for example, by emphasizing that exposure should be restricted to prevent preteen's alcohol use.