The aim of the present study was to elucidate the influence of the hepatic sympathetic and parasympathetic (vagal) nerves on the hepatic blood flow (HBF), both tonically and when stimulated, using urethane-anesthetized rats as an in vivo experimental model. HBF was measured at the surface of the lateral left lobe of the liver using laser Doppler flowmetry and the hydrogen gas clearance method. Denervation of the hepatic sympathetic nerves had no influence on the HBF, while electrical stimulation of the hepatic sympathetic nerves caused the HBF to decrease in a frequency-dependent manner. This decrease was shown to occur via alpha-adrenergic receptors. In contrast, neither denervation nor electrical stimulation of the hepatic vagal nerves elicited significant changes in the HBF. These results demonstrate that the sympathetic and vagal hepatic nerves have little or no tonic influence on the HBF of rats under urethane anesthesia, whereas the HBF decreases in response to activation of the hepatic sympathetic nerves.