Background: Endorsement of specific Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) alcohol use disorder (AUD) criteria have been shown to change significantly over time in men in their thirties who have persistent or recurrent AUD. However, few studies have documented whether the endorsement of AUD items changes over time in younger individuals or in women. We evaluated changes in the endorsement of AUD criteria in 377 men and women with persistent or recurrent AUD during their twenties. Methods: Information on AUD-item endorsement over time was available for 223 men and 154 women aged 20-25 with persistent or recurrent AUD in at least three interviews in the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism. The statistical significance of endorsement changes over time was evaluated using the related-sample Cochran's Q test for the full sample and for men and women separately. Additional analyses evaluated sex differences in the patterns of change. Results: In the full sample, the predominant pattern was for a significant increase in the rates of endorsement for six of the seven alcohol dependence criteria but not in the four abuse criteria. A similar pattern was seen within men, but women had significant changes in only three of the seven dependence criteria. Conclusions: Endorsement of the seven alcohol dependence criteria among individuals with persistent or recurrent AUD in their twenties generally increased, but few changes were observed in the rates of endorsement of the four abuse criteria. These results are discussed in terms of how they reflect on the nature of AUD and the DSM criteria.