ABSTRACT The National Alcohol Program (Proálcool) was a strategic policy of the Brazilian government to replace petroleum-based fuels with alcohol (ethanol). Based on the review, we can choose the 1960s as a start point for a leap in development. Over the 500 years of sugarcane history in Brazil, the crop enters the second decade of the 21st century with extraordinary strength and prestige, reaching its highest production in history. This made Brazil a leader in sugar and ethanol productions worldwide, with an energy-independent agribusiness. Moreover, effluents and polluting wastes were transformed into high-value inputs (e.g., vinasse, filter cake, and others). Environmentally friendly actions included developing organic cane production technology, ceasing sugarcane field burning, relocating workers from field cutting activities, reducing atmospheric CO2 emissions. Besides, Brazilian agribusiness has led the search for the “philosopher's stone,” that is, transforming pulp or bagasse (polysaccharides) into fermentable sugar for second-generation ethanol production. This paper aimed to present the history and development of the Proálcool Program from decade to decade, as well as showing the actions that led Brazil to assume such significant leadership. This survey highlights the roles of the government, through the Sugar and Alcohol Institute, and of the agronomist Dr Gilberto Miller Azzi, who lent his name to the central building of the Center for Agricultural Sciences - UFSCar's Araras campus.