The present study examined the effect of small, vasodilating doses of dopamine on the hepatic oxygen supply - uptake ratio. Thirteen miniature pigs weighing 18-27 kg were studied under sodium pentobarbital anesthesia. Hepatic arterial and portal blood flows were measured. Oxygen content in arterial, portal, and hepatic venous blood was determined. Dopamine was infused in doses of 5, 10, and 15 μg · kg-1 · min-1. Dopamine infusion was associated with a dose-related increase in hepatic oxygen uptake and a dose-independent increase in hepatic oxygen delivery with a maximal increase (30%) in the hepatic oxygen delivery at 10 μg · kg-1 · min-1. The hepatic oxygen delivery-uptake ratio remained unchanged during dopamine infusion in doses of 5 and 10 μg · kg-1 · min-1 and significantly decreased during the dose of 15 μg · kg-1 · min-1. The study demonstrated that an increase in cardiac output and hepatic oxygen delivery during dopamine administration was not associated with an improvement in hepatic oxygen supply-demand relationship since hepatic oxygen uptake also increased.