Partial portal vein ligation (PPVL) leads to the development of a hyperdynamic circulation. It is associated with elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) and nitric oxide (NO) production, both of which can result in oxidant injury. In this study, we have investigated whether PPVL is associated with the development of oxidative stress, by measuring urinary F2-isoprostanes. In addition, we have examined whether N-acetylcysteine (NAC) can ameliorate oxidant injury and prevent the development of the hyperdynamic circulation. Urinary excretion of F2-isoprostanes increased sixfold following PPVL together with a significant increase in plasma nitrite and nitrate. Treatment with NAC inhibited the formation of F2-isoprostanes as well as the increase in plasma nitrite and nitrate. Hemodynamic studies in anesthetized rats showed that following PPVL, cardiac output and portal pressure increased, and systemic vascular resistance decreased, consistent with the development of a hyperdynamic circulation. These changes were prevented by chronic administration of NAC. We conclude that NAC prevents the development of the hyperdynamic circulation and that the formation of reactive oxygen species may be important in the pathogenesis of these hemodynamic changes.