Conditions which influence the viability, integrity, and extraction efficiency of the isolated perfused rat liver were examined to establish optimal conditions for subsequent work in reperfusion injury studies including the choice of buffer, use of oncotic agents, hematocrit, perfusion flow rate, and pressure. Rat livers were perfused with MOPS-buffered Ringer solution with or without erythrocytes. Perfusates were collected and analyzed for blood gases, electrolytes, enzymes, radioactivity in MID studies, and lignocaine in extraction studies. Liver tissue was sampled for histological examinations, and wet:dry weight of the liver was also determined. MOPS-buffered Ringer solution was found to be superior to Krebs bicarbonate buffer, in terms of pH control and buffering capacity, especially during any prolonged period of liver perfusion. A pH of 7. 2 is chosen for perfusion since this is the physiological pH of the portal blood. The presence of albumin was important as an oncotic agent, particularly when erythrocytes were used in the perfusate. Perfusion pressure, resistance, and vascular volume are flow-dependent and the inclusion of erythrocytes in the perfusate substantially altered the flow characteristics for perfusion pressure and resistance but not vascular volume. Lignocaine extraction was relatively flow-independent. Perfusion injury as defined by enzyme release and tissue fine structure was closely related to the supply of O2. The optimal conditions for liver perfusion depend upon an adequate supply of oxygen. This can be achieved by using either erythrocyte-free perfusate at a flow rate greater than 6 ml/min/g liver or a 20% erythrocyte-containing perfusate at 2 ml/min/g.