BACKGROUND & AIMS Manganese (Mn) deposition could be responsible for the T(1)-weighted magnetic resonance signal hyperintensities observed in cirrhotic patients. These experiments were designed to assess the regional specificity of the Mn increases as well as their relationship to portal-systemic shunting or hepatobiliary dysfunction. METHODS Mn concentrations were measured in (1) brain samples from basal ganglia structures (pallidum, putamen, caudate nucleus) and cerebral cortical structures (frontal, occipital cortex) obtained at autopsy from 12 cirrhotic patients who died in hepatic coma and from 12 matched controls; and from (2) brain samples (caudate/putamen, globus pallidus, frontal cortex) from groups (n = 8) of rats either with end-to-side portacaval anastomosis, with biliary cirrhosis, or with fulminant hepatic failure as well as from sham-operated and normal rats. RESULTS Mn content was significantly increased in frontal cortex (by 38%), occipital cortex (by 55%), pallidum (by 186%), putamen (by 66%), and caudate (by 54%) of cirrhotic patients compared with controls. Brain Mn content did not correlate with patient age, etiology of cirrhosis, or history of chronic hepatic encephalopathy. In cirrhotic and portacaval-shunted rats, Mn content was increased in pallidum (by 27% and 57%, respectively) and in caudate/putamen (by 57% and 67%, respectively) compared with control groups. Mn concentration in pallidum was significantly higher in portacaval-shunted rats than in cirrhotic rats. No significant changes in brain Mn concentrations were observed in rats with acute liver failure. CONCLUSIONS These findings suggest that brain Mn deposition results both from portal-systemic shunting and from liver dysfunction.