The release of liver enzymes is typically used to assess tissue damage following ischemia-reperfusion. The present study was designed to determine the impact of ischemia-reperfusion on liver function and compare these findings with enzyme release. Isolated, perfused rat livers were subjected to low flow ischemia followed by reperfusion. Alterations in liver function were determined by comparing rates of oxygen consumption, gluconeogenesis, ureagenesis, and ketogenesis before and after ischemia. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) activities in effluent perfusate were used as markers of parenchymal and endothelial cell injury, respectively. Trypan blue staining was used to localize necrosis. Total glutathione (GSH + GSSG) and oxidized glutathione (GSSG) were measured in the perfusate as indicators of intracellular oxidative stress. LDH activity was increased 2-fold during reperfusion compared to livers kept normoxic for the same time period whereas PNP activity was elevated 5-fold under comparable conditions. Rates of oxygen consumption, gluconeogenesis, and ureagenesis were unchanged after ischemia, but ketogenesis was decreased 40% following 90 min ischemia. During reperfusion, the efflux rates of total glutathione and GSSG were unchanged from preischemic values. Significant midzonal staining of hepatocyte nuclei was observed following ischemia-reperfusion, whereas normoxic livers had only scattered staining of individual cells. Reperfusion of ischemic liver caused release of hepatic enzymes and midzonal cell death, however, several major liver functions were unaffected under these experimental conditions. These data indicate that there were negligible changes in liver function in this model of ischemia and reperfusion despite substantial enzyme release from the liver and midzonal cell death.