The results of a study to characterize the effects of the oral administration of isosorbide-5-mononitrate (Is-5-Mn), the active metabolite of isosorbide dinitrate, on portal hypertension in 23 patients with cirrhosis are reported. Patients received 20 mg of Is-5-Mn (n = 10), 40 mg (n = 9), or a placebo (n = 4). No significant changes were observed after the administration of the placebo. However, both doses of Is-5-Mn significantly reduced portal pressure, as evaluated by measurements of the hepatic venous pressure gradient. The fall in portal pressure averaged 10% after the 20-mg dose and 18% after 40 mg and was maintained for the 2 h of observation. Reduction of portal pressure was due to a decrease in the wedged hepatic vein pressure, with no changes in the free hepatic venous pressure. After the 20-mg dose, the decrease in portal pressure was associated with an increase in hepatic blood flow (16%), suggesting a fall in hepatic vascular resistance. However, after the 40-mg dose, a reflex splanchnic vasoconstriction elicited by the fall in arterial pressure (-19%) appeared to contribute to the greater reduction in portal pressure, as suggested by a significant decrease in azygos blood flow (-15%). These beneficial effects on portal pressure were not associated with adverse effects on liver function, as evaluated by measurements of the hepatic clearance of indocyanine green and the hepatic intrinsic clearance. Neither dose of Is-5-Mn caused significant changes in these quantitative parameters of liver function. These findings suggest that Is-5-Mn could be a potentially useful and safe agent in the treatment of portal hypertension.