In this paper, we offer experimental evidence of the rate-limiting diffusion of ligands through the unstirred water layer (UWL) as an explanation for the so-called albumin-mediated transport phenomenon. The relative membrane permeability of various ligands was first evaluated using isolated rat hepatocytes. Then, the effect of albumin on the uptake of ligands of a wide range of membrane permeabilities was examined using the perfused rat liver. The results were similar to those expected from the UWL model: ligands with high membrane permeability (warfarin, diazepam and taurocholate) clearly exhibited albumin-mediated transport, those with medium membrane permeability (tolbutamide and salicylate) showed less albumin-mediated transport, and ligand with low membrane permeability (cefodizime) did not show albumin-mediated transport. These results were explained by simulation studies of two separate cases based on the UWL model; one assuming the rapid equilibrium of ligand binding with albumin, and the other considering the slow dissociation of ligands from albumin. In light of these findings, we suggest that the rate-limiting diffusion through the UWL plays an important role in the so-called albumin-mediated transport phenomenon.