The status of the central blood volume in cirrhosis is controversial. A combination of sodium restriction and upright posture, which redistributes intravascular volume to dependent parts of the body should further aggravate a contracted central blood volume reduction. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of upright posture and sodium restriction on central blood volume (CBV) in preascitic cirrhotic patients, compared with controls. Eight male, preascitic, alcoholic cirrhotic subjects and eight healthy male controls were studied while on a 20-mmol/d sodium diet. Measurements of CBV by radionuclide angiography, and neurohumoral factors were performed on day 7 in both supine and erect positions and cardiac output and systemic vascular resistance (SVR) was calculated. Sodium restriction resulted in less weight loss in the cirrhotic patients (P = .03), with significantly lower plasma renin activity (P = .001). Similar central blood volumes and systemic hemodynamics were observed in both groups in the supine posture. In contrast to the cirrhotic patients, in the control subjects, upright posture resulted in a significant reduction in cardiac output (P = .002) and increase in SVR (P = .005), associated with a decrease in all blood volumes which were significantly less than in the cirrhotic patients. Mean arterial pressure was maintained in both groups in both postures. In conclusion, with sodium restriction, preascitic cirrhotic patients have less intravascular volume contraction than control patients. Erect posture results in redistribution of this relatively expanded intravascular volume to the CBV. Therefore, a low-sodium diet can be safely administered in preascitic cirrhotic patients.