The efficacy of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) in the management of more common liver-based metabolic disorders associated with severe liver damage, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (PIZZ), Wilson disease and tyrosinaemia has been demonstrated and indications defined. An early mortality in excess of 15% and finite resources limit its use. Phenotypic heterogeneity make the precise indication in other disorders less certain. In disorders in which endstage liver disease is less frequent such as cystic fibrosis, haemochromatosis and galacosaemia it has been a very effective therapy. It has been used with encouraging results in disorders in which the liver is structurally normal such as Crigler-Najjar type I, primary hyperoxaluria type I and primary hypercholesterolaemia. In these it should be performed before there is permanent damage to brain, kidneys or heart. OLT in the short term prevents hyperammonaemic coma in urea cycle defects and may prevent extrahepatic disease in glycogen storage disease type IV. Its limitation in reversing all metabolic effects in these and other disorders is discussed. It is ineffective in protoporphyria or Niemann Pick disease type II (Sea Blue Histiocyte syndrome) in which the transplanted liver acquires the lesions of the initial disorder and extrahepatic features progress. Early referral provides optimum circumstances to assess the benefits of OLT as compared with those of other forms of management and to achieve transplantation at the ideal time. The place of OLT in management will require constant review as metabolic disorders are better defined, new forms of therapy evolve and as techniques of liver transplantation and modes of immunosuppression improve.