A terminal rinse (TR) is standard practice in liver preservation with University of Wisconsin solution (UW) to avoid a potassium load. The fact that sodium lactobionate sucrose solution (SLS) is an effective organ preservation solution with a low potassium provided an opportunity to evaluate rat liver preservation without the TR step. Its importance was investigated in 122 rat liver preservation experiments. In study 1, UW and a hydroxyethyl starch-free, modified UW (UWm) were used for 20-hr liver preservation followed by either no TR or Ringer's lactate TR. The 1-week survival was: UW-TR, 2/14; UW-no TR, 1/6; UWm-TR, 0/6; UWm-no TR, 5/5 (P<0.01). In study 2, livers were stored for 30 hr in SLS, UW, UWm, and UWm + chlorpromazine 5 mg/L, all without a TR. Nine of 11 rats survived 7 days after SLS, but there were no survivors in the other groups (P<0.05). Study 3 compared no TR with TR with SLS, Ringer's lactate (RL), or a modified Carolina rinse (CRm) after 30-hr SLS preservation. Survival, serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotrans-ferase, and histology were assessed. One-week survival of 9/11 rats in no TR was significantly better than in the other groups (3/14 in TR-SLS, 0/8 in TR-RL, and 0/ 14 in TR-CRm, P<0.01). The values of aspartate aminotransferase (mean ± SE) 3 hr after transplantation were 1862±430 U/L, 3334±817 U/L, 6591± 1944 U/L, and 7028±1704 U/L, respectively, in no TR, TR-SLS, TR-RL, and TR-CRm. There were significant differences both in aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase between no-TR and each of TR-RL and TR-CRm (P<0.05). Liver specimens from rats killed 3 hr after OLT showed only mild injury in the no TR group and severe injury in the remaining groups. We conclude that a terminal rinse is harmful in rat liver preservation.