The effect of large-volume paracentesis on lung function was evaluated in 12 male patients with cirrhosis. All underwent pulmonary function tests including spirometry, plethysmography and single-breath carbon-monoxide diffusing capacity 1 day before and after paracentesis. The amount of ascitic fluid removed ranged from 3.6 to 131 (mean +/- SD, 7.4 +/- 3.01). After paracentesis, forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume at 1 s, total lung capacity, functional residual capacity, inspiratory capacity, expiratory reserve volume, diffusing capacity and alveolar volume increased significantly. In contrast, Kco (diffusing capacity corrected by alveolar volume) decreased significantly. After paracentesis, the increase in diffusing capacity was highly correlated with lung volumes and the amount of removed ascitic fluid. Nevertheless, a significantly negative correlation was found between the change of Kco before and after paracentesis and that of lung volumes. The increase in lung volumes and ventilation to the lower lungs with unfavorable ventilation-perfusion matching might explain the discrepancy between changes in diffusing capacity and Kco after large-volume paracentesis. In conclusion, these results suggest that pulmonary function in patients with cirrhosis and tense ascites is partly improved by large-volume paracentesis. Large-volume paracentesis might be useful for symptomatic relief in selected patients with tense ascites.