Tauroursodeoxycholic acid, a highly hydrophilic bile acid, may be of therapeutic value for chronic cholestatic liver diseases. We performed a dose-response study on 24 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis who were randomly assigned to receive 500, 1000, or 1500 mg daily of tauroursodeoxycholic acid for six months. Biliary enrichment with ursodeoxycholic acid ranged from 15% to 48% and was not related with the dose. Serum liver enzyme levels decreased significantly after the first month of treatment with all the three doses. No significant difference among the three doses was found, although further reduction over time occurred with 1000 and 1500mg daily. Plasma total and HDL cholesterol significantly decreased in patients administered the two higher doses. Diarrhea was the only side effect. In conclusion, a dose of about 10mg/kg body wt/day of tauroursodeoxycholic acid should be used for long-term studies in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis.