Although hepatic blood flow increases significantly during early sepsis [as produced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP)], it is not known whether this is due to the increase in portal or hepatic arterial blood flows. To study this, rats were subjected to CLP, after which they and sham-operated rats received either 3 or 6 ml normal saline/100 g body wt subcutaneously (i.e., all rats received crystalloid therapy). Blood flow in various organs was determined by using a radioactive microsphere technique at 5 and 20 h after CLP or sham operation. Portal blood flow was calculated as the sum of blood flows to the spleen, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, and mesentery. Total hepatic blood flow was the sum of portal blood flow and hepatic arterial blood flow. A significant increase in portal blood flow and in total hepatic blood flow was observed at 5 h after CLP (i.e., early sepsis), and this was not altered by doubling the volume of crystalloid resuscitation after the induction of sepsis. In contrast, hepatic arterial blood flow during early sepsis was found to be similar to control; however, it was significantly reduced in late sepsis (i.e., 20 h after CLP). Cardiac output was significantly higher than the control in early sepsis. However, even in late sepsis, cardiac output and total hepatic blood flow were not significantly different from controls. These results indicate that the increased total hepatic blood flow during early hyperdynamic sepsis is solely due to the increased portal blood flow.