1. 65Zn was injected intravenously during transjugular liver biopsy and, from simultaneous hepatic and peripheral venous blood samples, hepatointestinal 65Zn extraction was calculated. Hepatic zinc content was measured in biopsy specimens.
2. On the same occasion samples of liver tissue were taken and their zinc content was measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry.
3. Seven patients with cirrhosis had significantly lower hepatic zinc content and hepatointestinal zinc extraction than six control patients with mild liver disease. Six patients with chronic hepatitis had a mean hepatointestinal zinc extraction higher than control patients, whereas their mean hepatic zinc content was lower, although the former difference did not achieve statistical significance.
4. These results demonstrate that hepatointestinal extraction of zinc is impaired in cirrhosis, but not in chronic hepatitis.