To evaluate chronic ethanol toxicity on erythrocyte membrane and preventive action of betaine as a methyl donor, 24 male Wistar albino rats were divided into three groups: control, ethanol and ethanol plus betaine group. Animals were fed 60 ml diet per day for two months. Rats in the ethanol group were fed ethanol 8 g/kg/day. The ethanol + betaine groups were fed ethanol plus betaine (0.5% w/v). After two months, all animals were killed. Malondialdehyde (MDA) and sialic acid (SA) levels were determined in plasma samples. Osmotic fragility tests were performed on whole blood samples and erythrocyte membrane thiol contents were determined using membrane suspensions. Plasma MDA levels in ethanol-given rats were increased significantly compared to the control group of rats (p < 0.05). MDA in the betaine group was significantly lower than that in the ethanol group (p < 0.05). Erythrocyte membrane thiol contents in ethanol group were decreased compared with those of the control group (p < 0.05). Thiol contents were increased slightly after betaine therapy, but this increase was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Plasma sialic acid levels in the ethanol group were significantly higher than in the control group (p < 0.05). Sialic acid was decreased in the betaine group compared to the ethanol group (p < 0.05). In the osmotic fragility test, we observed that chronic ethanol consumption increased erythrocyte hemolysis. Betaine protected against ethanol-induced hemolysis. Our findings show that chronic ethanol administration affects erythrocyte membrane properties and this may be related to oxidative stress. Betaine protects erythrocyte membrane alterations against chronic ethanol toxicity. Therefore betaine as a nutritional agent, may protect ethanol induced clinical problems associated with membrane abnormalities.