Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is widely practised in developed countries. The procedure is costly, the supply of donor organs limited, and it is not known how many patients need transplantation. A community-wide estimate of the needs for OLT was performed over two years in all general hospitals in Israel. Records of 1851 patients with liver disease were screened to identify those who might eventually need OLT. The annual estimate of transplantation needs in the country was 10-15.5 per million population, with equal numbers of males and females. The addition of patients with nonreformed alcoholism and end-stage liver disease, originally set as an exclusion criteria, would have added 20% to this estimate. 37% of potential candidates were under 40 years of age at diagnosis, and about 50% were 55-64 years old. Almost 80% of patients had cirrhosis of the liver and 13.6% had fulminant hepatitis. These findings provide a basis for a national plan of OLT in Israel, and similar studies might be useful in other countries.