The aim of our studies was to investigate hormonal prevention of hepatic preservation damage by the atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and the mechanisms involved. Isolated perfusion of rat livers was performed in a nonrecirculating fashion. Twenty minutes of preischemic perfusion was performed with or without different concentrations of ANP, followed by 24-hour storage in cold University of Wisconsin (UW) solution. Two hundred nanomoles of ANP prevented hepatocellular damage during a 2-hour reperfusion period as indicated by a marked attenuation of the sinusoidal efflux of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), and by reduced Trypan blue uptake. Furthermore, postischemic bile flow as an indicator of liver function was significantly improved by about 60% with 200 nmol/L ANP. No protection was conveyed by 20 nmol/L ANP nor by pretreatment with 200 nmol/L ANP for only 10 minutes. The effects of ANP seemed to be mediated by the guanylate cyclase–coupled A (GC-A) receptor and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP): whereas expression of both GC-A and GC-B receptors as well as of the GC-C receptor was found, cGMP did protect from ischemia-reperfusion damage, but selective ligands of the B and C receptor did not. To begin to determine the mechanisms of ANP-mediated protection, different parameters were investigated: ANP had no effect on portal pressure as an indicator of hepatic circulation, nor on intracellular energy depletion determined by adenosine nucleotide concentration. However, the marked augmentation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) binding activity during reperfusion was prevented in ANP-pretreated livers. In conclusion, pretreatment with ANP protects the rat liver from cold ischemia-reperfusion damage. This effect is mediated via the GC-A receptor and cGMP, and may be linked to an influence of ANP on NF-κB activation. Thus, ANP signaling via the GC-A receptor should be considered as a new pharmacological target to prevent preservation injury of the liver.