Hepatic extraction of solutes depends on microvascular angioarchitecture, hemodynamics and solute concentrations. These factors may contribute to the heterogeneity observed in solute transport and uptake in the hepatic lobules. However, predictions of liver extraction based on black-box models require assumptions about these factors and the microvascular transport mechanisms involved. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to investigate solute transport and uptake by hepatocytes. Livers from male Sprague-Dawley rats were perfused at physiological flowrates and portal pressures on the stage of an in vivo microscope using a low-hematocrit Ringer solution. A bolus of fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextrans (17,900, 39,000, 65,600 or 156,900 MW), which are considered inert fluid-phase markers, was injected into the portal vein. Fluorescein isothiocyanate fluorescence, as a measure of solute concentration, was video recorded in periportal or centrivenular regions of the lobules. Spatial and temporal fluorescence data, measured in sinusoids and hepato-cytes, were fit to one-dimensional transport models to determine estimates for an intracellular effective diffusion coefficient and for hepatocyte permeability. The calculated effective diffusion coefficients were 2.5 times larger for dextrans less than 66,000 MW, but were not different between the periportal and centrivenular regions. Also, the values did not show the inverse log-log molecular weight dependency for dextrans seen in other microvascular tissues. Values of permeability were much larger than values for nonfenestrated capillaries and also did not exhibit any regional differences. Finally, comparison of the magnitudes of effective diffusion coefficients and permeability suggested that the controlling resistance to dextran uptake occurs intracellularly.