To determine the localization of increased vascular resistance in cirrhotic liver, blood pressures were measured by a direct cannulation method at several key points in the hepatic vascular pathway in normal and cirrhotic rats. Cirrhosis was produced by feeding a choline-deficient diet. Blood pressures in normal rats were 110 mm H2O in the portal vein, 68 mm H2O in the terminal portal venule, 28 mm H2O in the terminal hepatic venule and 20 mm H2O in the inferior vena cava. In cirrhotic rats, blood pressures in the portal vein and the terminal portal venule were 173 and 100 mm H2O, respectively, while those in the terminal hepatic venule and the inferior vena cava were elevated only slightly above normal. These hemodynamic data suggest that an increase in vascular resistance in cirrhotic liver is present in the intrahepatic portal vein and sinusoids, but not in intrahepatic hepatic vein. In cirrhotic liver, stenosis and distortion were found in peripheral branches of the portal vein, and sinusoidal stenoses and a decrease in sinusoidal space were recognized. Accordingly, it is suggested that the increase in vascular resistance in the intrahepatic portal vein and sinusoids correlate with these structural changes. Although severe stenoses and distortion were found in hepatic vein branches, it was thought that they do not contribute to portal hypertension because of lack of increase in vascular resistance in the intrahepatic hepatic vein.