Fourteen cirrhotic patients with tense ascites were treated with total paracentesis and intravenous isotonic saline infusion. Standard liver and kidney function tests, plasma renin activity and aldosterone concentration were measured before, at 48 hrs and at 7 days after total paracentesis. The volume of ascites removed was 7.7 +/- 5.6 l (mean +/- S.E.M.). None of the treated patients had clinical complications or significant alterations in liver or kidney function test results. Paracentesis and intravenous isotonic saline infusion were not associated with significant changes in mean plasma renin activity or plasma aldosterone concentration. These results suggest that this therapeutic procedure could be a safe and cost-effective alternative treatment of tense ascites in patients with cirrhosis.