The roles of changes in cellular redox, interorgan lactate flux and balance, and quantitative aspects of lactate metabolism in the pathogenesis of lactic acidosis are discussed. Altered metabolism of pyruvate is central to the development of lactic acidosis and hyperlactatemia. Lactic acidosis occurs as a result of a relative or absolute imbalance in lactate production and utilization. Lactate utilization for oxidative purposes and for the resynthesis of glucose is essential for the maintenance of acid-base balance. Because of its role in lactate homeostasis the liver may play a central role in acid-base balance. Impairment of hepatic utilization of lactate may produce lactic acidosis.