The effect of metoclopramide on portal blood flow, the maximal diameter of the portal vein, and some cardiovascular haemodynamic variables was studied in 10 patients with cirrhosis of the liver and portal hypertension. Portal vein haemodynamics were studied by the pulsed Doppler system. Within 15 min of intravenous administration of 20 mg metoclopramide, portal blood velocity and portal blood flow decreased significantly, from 11.2 +/- 1.1 to 10.8 +/- 1.2 cm/sec and from 769.0 +/- 87.7 to 707.9 +/- 84.2 ml/min, respectively (p less than 0.001). Within about 30 min portal blood velocity and portal blood flow returned to basal values (p greater than 0.05). The maximal diameter of the portal vein, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate remained unchanged. These results support the hypothesis that metoclopramide, which raises lower oesophageal sphincter pressure and reduces intravariceal blood flow, significantly decreases the portal blood flow in cirrhotic patients with portal hypertension.