Data from the past few years have shown that as caffeine metabolizes solely in the liver, caffeine elimination can serve as a liver function test. We have collected data by monitoring 40 persons with liver diseases (11 chronic alcoholic hepatitis, 24 liver cirrhosis, 5 non-cirrhotic liver disease). Eight subjects served as controls. The patients with liver cirrhosis were classified according to the Child--Pugh scoring system. To determine caffeine elimination blood samples were collected before and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 hours after oral administration of 0.2 g caffeine. Fasting serum caffeine concentration and concentration 12 hours after administration, serum clearance, half life, peak concentration and volume of distribution have been compared. The respective values measured in patients with non-cirrhotic liver diseases did not differ significantly from the controls. The disappearance of caffeine was significantly decreased in cirrhotics. Our results demonstrated a good correlation between impairment of caffeine elimination and assessment of severity of liver disease by the Child--Pugh classification. Measuring serum levels in samples taken 12 hours after caffeine administration is a simple and useful method in the diagnosis of liver diseases at cirrhotic stage.