BACKGROUND In cirrhotic patients, the degree of hepatic insufficiency has been related to a physiological landmark: arterial vasodilatation. We sought to assess how the severity of disease, which was stratified according to the Child-Pugh criteria, influences the pulmonary and systemic circulation among patients undergoing liver transplantation. METHODS We studied 86 cirrhotic patients in three groups: grade A (n = 10), grade B (n = 54), and grade C (n = 22). The outurnes were classified based upon a complete hemodynamic profile obtained using a pulmonary artery catheter (RVEF, Baxter-Edwards, Calif, USA) after induction of anesthesia. The variables were mean arterial and pulmonary artery pressures and cardiac index (CI). Using standard formulae, afterload was calculated as elastance of systemic (Es) and pulmonary (Ep) arterial beds, expressed by the ratio of end-systolic pressure to stroke volume. The relation between pulmonary and systemic circulation was also evaluated by the ratio (Ep/Es). RESULTS Es was significantly lower in each class than in previous one. Also, Ep was smaller in class B than in class C patients. In addition, CI was significantly higher with disease severity. CONCLUSION We observed that the hyperdynamic circulation in cirrhosis is directly related to severity of disease. Nevertheless Ep/Es was progressively higher among each group; these data suggest that the hyperdynamic circulation is mainly due to circulatory alterations in the splanchnic area. We conclude that pulmonary vasodilatation is directly related to the severity of cirrhosis, although its evolution is independent of other vascular areas.