The present study investigated plasma levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8) in patients with post-hepatitic cirrhosis and correlated it with the severity of liver diseases and haemodynamic parameters. Plasma IL-8 levels were significantly higher in 57 post-hepatitic cirrhotic patients (7.5 +/- 1.8 pg/mL; P < 0.005) than those in 41 healthy subjects (2.0 +/- 0.2 pg/mL). Elevated (> 5 pg/mL) plasma IL-8 levels were found in up to 30% of cirrhotic patients. In cirrhotic patients, plasma IL-8 levels progressively increased in relation to the severity of liver dysfunction (4.5 +/- 1.0, 4.9 +/- 1.4 and 20.5 +/- 8.3 pg/mL for Pugh's class A, B and C, respectively; P < 0.005). A significant correlation was observed between plasma IL-8 levels and serum bilirubin levels (r = 0.72; P < 0.001). There were no differences in the hepatic venous pressure gradient (15.4 +/- 1.1 vs 15.1 +/- 0.9 mmHg; P > 0.05) and systemic vascular resistance (1119 +/- 118 vs 1199 +/- 54 dyn.s/cm5; P > 0.05) between cirrhotic patients with and without elevated plasma IL-8 levels. In addition, plasma IL-8 levels did not correlate with hepatic venous pressure gradient (r = 0.26; P > 0.05) and systemic vascular resistance (r = -0.24; P > 0.05). These results demonstrate that plasma IL-8 levels are increased in patients with post-hepatitic cirrhosis. The severity of liver cirrhosis is an important factor for the occurrence of enhanced IL-8 levels. IL-8 does not play a role in the hyperdynamic circulation observed in patients with post-hepatitic cirrhosis.