The authors examined the natriuretic efficiency of furosemide in rats with cirrhosis induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)). Rats were treated for 17 weeks with intraperitoneal injections of CCl(4) in groundnut oil twice a week throughout the study. Control rats were treated with vehicle (groundnut oil). Studies in metabolic cages showed that sodium retention was present from week 14. Renal clearance experiments were performed in chronically, instrumented conscious rats at the end of week 14 and at the termination of the study (end week 16) when ascites and hyponatremia were present. After 14 weeks, cirrhotic rats had sodium retention along with increased renal plasma flow, normal GFR, normal renal lithium handling, and a significantly increased diuretic (+41% vs. control) and natriuretic (+56% vs. control) response to a test dose furosemide (7.5 mg/kg b.w., intravenously). The natriuretic efficiency of furosemide, i.e., the natriuresis expressed relative to the furosemide excretion rate (triangle upU(Na)V/U(FUR)V) was increased by 51% versus control. After 17 weeks, ascites and hyponatremia had developed, and significant decreases in renal plasma flow (-33%), GFR (-30%), and fractional lithium excretion (-44%) were observed. At this stage urinary recovery of furosemide was significantly decreased and the diuretic (-27% vs. Control) and natriuretic (-38% vs. control) responses to furosemide were significantly impaired. However, the increased natriuretic efficiency of furosemide was still present (+34% vs. control). Together these results suggest that increased sodium reabsorption in the thick ascending limb of Henle's loop is involved in the renal sodium retention in cirrhosis in rats that eventually results in decompensation with the formation of ascites.