Despite an initially successful resuscitation from circulatory shock, multiple organ failure (MOF) develops in some patients. The marked biochemical alterations associated with shock and MOF include clinically important changes in gene expression, such as altered rates of albumin and procoagulant synthesis. To characterize the MOF-associated changes at the cellular level, sequential liver biopsies were obtained from a swine model of cardiogenic shock associated with MOF. Preshock and postresuscitation biopsies were used not only to create a complementary DNA (cDNA) library but also to screen, to confirm, and, in nine out of 12 cases, to specifically identify genes whose expression is enhanced at least fivefold after resuscitation. The twelve genes thus characterized can be separated according to function into distinct groups, including the acute-phase genes and the heat-shock genes. Expression of acute-phase genes is liver specific and is essential for systemic homeostasis; heat-shock gene expression is generic to all cells and important for intracellular homeostasis.