Thirteen patients with alcoholic cirrhosis had splanchnic and systemic hemodynamics assessed before and after ingestion of a standard liquid meal of 700 kcal (consisting of isocaloric proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates). Half of the patients (n = 6) were randomized to a treatment group receiving intravenous infusion of propranolol in combination with the meal. No significant effects were observed on systemic hemodynamics after the meal alone. Heart rate (-14%; P less than 0.01) and cardiac index (-24%; P less than 0.01) decreased after meal in combination with propranolol. The mean hepatic venous pressure gradient increased significantly after ingestion of the meal alone with a maximal effect after 30 minutes (+13%; P less than 0.05) and returned to baseline values after 2 hours. Meal in combination with propranolol had no significant effect on the hepatic venous pressure gradient. Hepatic blood flow increased substantially after the meal alone with a maximal effect after 30 minutes (+28%; P less than 0.01), whereas no significant effect was observed after meal in combination with propranolol. Azygos blood flow increased significantly after the meal alone (+36%; P less than 0.05), whereas this effect was abolished in combination with propranolol. In conclusion, ingestion of a peroral mixed meal in cirrhotic patients has, contrary to what is observed in normal controls, no effects on systemic hemodynamics. Substantial changes in splanchnic hemodynamics were observed, and these effects were all abolished when the meal was administered in combination with propranolol.