The objective of this prospective study was to assess the prognostic value of dynamic liver function tests and traditional methods of evaluating liver function in potential candidates for hepatic transplantation. Patients who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation within the follow-up period of 120 days were excluded. The study included 107 adult and 57 pediatric patients with cirrhosis. Postnecrotic cirrhosis was present in 107 and biliary cirrhosis in 57 of 164 patients. During the follow-up period, 26 of 164 patients died of their liver disease. At the time of inclusion, we recorded monoethylglycinexylidide (MEGX) formation from lidocaine, indocyanine green (ICG) half-life, bilirubin and albumin serum concentration, activity of cholinesterase and alkaline phosphatase, prothrombin time, the clinical complication of ascites, and--in adults--the Pugh score also. These variables were subjected as covariates to a survival analysis (Cox proportional hazards regression model) using separately the data from adults, pediatric patients, all patients with postnecrotic cirrhosis, and all patients with biliary cirrhosis. In all of these four subgroups there was a significant relationship between MEGX and ICG test results and the 120-day survival. In the stepwise analysis, none of the remaining parameters contributed to a further relevant improvement of our predictive ability when added to the values of ICG and MEGX. Our results suggest that the ICG and the MEGX test are superior to conventional liver function tests and the Pugh score in assessing short-term prognosis in cirrhotics independently from the etiology of the underlying liver disease. These findings may have important implications for determining the optimum timing of transplantation.