Abstract Hepatic microcirculation has been related to liver function in several studies. The principle of this relationship lies in the sequential distribution of blood from the feeding vessels of the hepatic acinus to the central vein. This study was undertaken to investigate the progressive changes at different sites of the liver microvascular bed in the developing cirrhosis, both by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy of corrosion casts. Experimental cirrhosis was induced with intragastric carbon tetrachloride. The most important vascular chages progressively observed are the reduction of the distance between the pre- and postsinusoidal vessels, the presence of newly formed shunting vessels bypassing the sinusoids and, finally, the development of a perinodular vascular plexus composed of pre- and postsinusoidal vessels. Newly formed vessels grow through preformed tissue septa. These vascular modifications make any zonal gradient hardly possible. The loss of the zonal gradient of perfusion could highly modify liver function, along with the structural changes of hepatic laminae. Hepatocyte regeneration cannot recover the original vascular relationships: this makes the morphological and functional destructuralization of cirrhotic liver irreversible.