Background: Guanylate Cyclase C (GC-C) expression in the intestine plays a role in the regulation of fluid and ion transport, as well as epithelial cell apoptosis and proliferation. In the adult rat liver, GC-C expression is increased in response to injury. We hypothesized that GC-C is required for repair/recovery from liver injury.Methods: We subjected wild type (WT) and GC-C deficient mice to acute liver injury with a single injection of the hepatotoxin carbon tetrachloride. Changes in the level of expression of GC-C and its ligands uroguanylin and guanylin were quantified by real-time PCR. Liver morphology, and hepatocyte necrosis, apoptosis and proliferation, were examined at 1-3 days post-injury in mice on a mixed genetic background. Survival was followed for 14 days after carbon tetrachloride injection in wild type and GC-C deficient mice on both a mixed genetic background and on an inbred C57BL6/J background.Results: GC-C deficient mice on the mixed genetic background nearly all died (median survival of 5 days) following carbon tetrachloride injection while WT littermates experienced only 35% mortality. Elevated levels of TUNEL-positive hepatocyte death on post-injury day 1, increased apoptosis on day 2, and increased areas of centrilobular necrosis on days 2 and 3, were evident in livers from GC-C null mice compared to WT. Collectively these data suggest increased hepatocyte death in the GC-C null mice in the early time period after injury. This corresponds temporally with increased expression of GC-C and its ligands guanylin and uroguanylin in post-injury WT mouse liver. The hepatocyte proliferative response to injury was the same in both genotypes. In contrast, there was no difference in survival between GC-C null and WT mice on the inbred C57BL/6 J background in response to acute liver injury.Conclusions: Signalling via GC-C promotes hepatocyte survival in vivo and is required for effective recovery from acute toxic injury to the liver in a strain-specific manner. © 2010 Mann et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.