The contribution of hepatocytes of different acinar zones to bile salt transport and to the secretion of the BSNDF was studied in the rat. Changes in the removal of 14C-taurocholate from blood, in the biliary secretion of taurocholate, and in canalicular flow were determined after damage of the periportal (acinar zone 1) or centrilobular (acinar zone 3) areas by allyl alcohol or bromobenzene, respectively. The extent of cell necrosis was quantitated by light microscopy, and the quality of the intracellular damage was assessed by electron microscopy. After either periportal or centrilobular damage, surviving cells responded to an intravenous infusion of taurocholate by secreting bile salts into bile at a rate similar to controls. However, following the administration of 14C-taurocholate at high concentrations and as a single bolus, the rate of removal of this isotope from blood was slower than in controls. Both experiments suggested that periportal and centrilobular hepatocytes had the capability for bile salt transport. Consequently, since the concentration of bile salts in sinusoidal blood at each zone determines the relative contribution of hepatocytes to bile salt transport, periportal cells probably transport the largest amount of bile salts reaching the acinus. Canalicular bile flow, on the other hand, decreased following centrilobular cell damage, and this was associated with a high concentration of bile salts in bile. This suggested that at bile salt loads near physiological concentrations, the predominant contribution of centrilobular hepatocytes is to the secretion of the BSNDF.