We determined the radioactivity of 99mTc-diethylene-triamine pentaacetic acid (99mTc-DTPA) from the azygos vein in 20 patients with cirrhosis to evaluate the hemodynamic relationship between esophageal varices and azygos venous blood flow before and after sclerotherapy. 99mTc-DTPA was injected into the splenic artery before and after sclerotherapy through a catheter in the right femoral artery. The patients were classified into three types. Type I consisted of nine patients who showed maximum levels of 99mTc-DTPA which were significantly lower (P < 0.01) than those determined before sclerotherapy. The Type II was composed of six patients who had far lower radioactivity levels than those of Type I, but also showed significantly lower maximum activity after sclerotherapy than before (P < 0.01). The five patients in Type III had significantly higher radioactivity after sclerotherapy than before (P < 0.05). Rupture of the esophageal varices occurred in one of the Type I (11.1%), none of the Type II, and four of Type III (80%) cases, among all of the patients followed for 40 months after sclerotherapy. The radioactivity in the azygos vein appeared later in Type I (P < 0.05) and Type II after sclerotherapy than before sclerotherapy, but in Type III there was no difference between pre- and post-sclerotherapy values. Type III patients in whom portography was performed showed short gastric and paraesophageal veins, whereas Type I and Type II patients did not. These data suggest that radioactivity in the azygos vein before and after sclerotherapy reflect the grade of shunting and estimate the recurrence of bleeding in patients with cirrhosis associated with esophageal varices.