We have shown previously that ethanol-induced defects in receptor-mediated endocytosis of asialoorosomucoid occurred as early as 1 wk after ethanol feeding. This study was undertaken as an initial attempt to establish a possible role of defective receptormediated endocytosis in liver injury by investigating whether differences exist in the effects of ethanol on receptor-mediated endocytosis in hepatocytes isolated from different regions of the liver. Perivenule cells, present in the distal half of the liver, are thought to be more susceptible to ethanol-induced liver injury than are the periportal cells located in the proximal half of the liver acini. For these studies, we fed male Sprague-Dawley rats for 7 days with liquid diets containing either ethanol (36% of calories) or isocaloric carbohydrate. Perivenule and periportal hepatocytes were then isolated using a digitonin-collagenase perfusion method. In control animals, cells isolated from the perivenule region bound significantly more ligand than did cells from the periportal region. Amounts of ligand internalized and degraded were also greater in perivenule than in periportal cells in these animals. After ethanol feeding, cells isolated from both the perivenule and periportal regions bound significantly less ligand than their respective controls. This impairment in surface and total binding was more pronounced in perivenule than in periportal cells. Internalization and degradation of the ligand were also more adversely affected in the centrilobular region as shown by decreases of greater than 60% in perivenule cells and by only 20% to 30% in periportal cells of ethanol-fed animals compared with controls. Receptor recycling was impaired in the perivenule region by ethanol administration as shown by receptor cycle times that were significantly prolonged in cells from the perivenule region but were relatively unchanged in periportal cells. These results indicate that ethanolinduced impairments in receptor-mediated endocytosis are more dramatic in the perivenule region of the liver, thus suggesting a potential role of defective receptor-mediated endocytosis in ethanol-induced liver injury. (HEPATOLOGY 1991;13:260—266).