Liver regenerative processes are associated with enhanced expression of alloantigens. Accordingly, we tested the hypothesis that such enhanced surface expression of alloantigens during regeneration of reduced-size liver grafts is associated with accelerated rejection. Our OLT model was LEW (RT1) to BN (RT1n), with donor liver resected by 50%. The study group consisted of reduced-size allografts. Control groups were syngeneic reduced-size isografts and full-size allografts. Reduced-size isograft recipients survived indefinitely. Both isografts and allografts regenerated to their prereduction size within 12 days. Recipients of reduced-size allografts died of accelerated rejection within 12.2 +/- 0.8 days, significantly earlier than recipients receiving full-size allografts (36.2 +/- 4.1 days, P < 0.01). The accelerated rejection in the regenerating allografts was mediated both by cellular and humoral mechanisms, evidenced by earlier lymphocytic invasion of the graft, enhanced donor MHC class II expression, and the emergence of IgM antibodies, directed specifically against donor endothelial antigens. These data suggest that regeneration of reduced-size allografts is accompanied by accelerated cellularly and humorally mediated alloreactivity. Recipients of reduced-size allografts may, therefore, benefit from more potent immunosuppression during the period of active liver regeneration.