Few data exist concerning survival after the diagnosis of hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS). Although orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) frequently results in complete resolution of HPS, the relationship between transplantation and survival has not been described. The study rationale was to describe long-term survival in patients with HPS. Data were derived from patients diagnosed with HPS at Mayo Clinic (n = 61) between 1985 and 2002, including those undergoing OLT (n = 24) and those who did not (n = 37). A case-control, Kaplan-Meier survival analysis between HPS patients and 77 patients without HPS matched for liver disease cause, model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), severity of liver disease by the Child classification, and age was described for OLT and non-OLT groups. Patients with HPS had a mean partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PaO(2)) decline of 5.2 + 2.3 mm Hg per year awaiting OLT. For HPS patients, despite similar baseline PaO(2), brain uptake of technetium macroaggregated albumin ((99m)TcMAA), or measures of hepatic dysfunction, 5-year survival associated with OLT was 76% versus 23% who did not undergo transplantation (P < .0001). Comparing those who did not undergo transplantation, HPS patients had worse 5-year survival than matched controls (P = .0003). However, reasons to deny OLT (comorbidity) in the setting of HPS may well have contributed to observed survival differences. Baseline PaO(2) </=50 mm Hg was associated with worse survival irrespective of the decision to perform OLT. In conclusion, hypoxemia of HPS is frequently progressive. As OLT outcome relates to pretransplantation PaO(2), additional MELD points should advance the priority for OLT in HPS.