1. Systemic haemodynamics and kidney function were studied in the same dogs before and 14 days after choledochocaval anastomosis.
2. All dogs became deeply jaundiced whereas parenchymal liver function remained unchanged as assessed biochemically.
3. After choledochocaval anastomosis there was a decrease in mean arterial pressure (118 ± 18 to 98 ± 13 mmHg, P < 0·005), and total peripheral resistance (4073·8 ± 620·0 to 3327·6 ± 244·9 kPa l−1 s kg, P < 0·01), whereas mean cardiac index and plasma volume corrected for body weight did not change.
4. Despite their disturbed systemic haemodynamics the cholaemic dogs had normal mean glomerular filtration rate and renal plasma flow. Maximal ability to concentrate and dilute the urine was, however, impaired during cholaemia.
5. It is concluded that cholaemia per se cuases peripheral vasodilatation, hypotension and renal tubular dysfunction. Similar phenomena in jaundiced patients may contribute to their susceptibility to postoperative shock and acute renal failure.