Intracellular-type electrolyte solutions were introduced into organ preservation to prevent K+ efflux and Na+ and Cl− influx into cells and cell swelling during cold ischemia. We studied cation accumulation in the interstitial space by microdialysis, during rat liver cold storage and after flush-out with high-K+ and low-K+ solutions. The effect of Na+ and K+ on graft function and survival was studied in an isolated perfused liver model and an orthotopic transplantation model after rat liver storage in iso-osmolar high-K+ and low-K+ solutions. After 24 hours of cold ischemia [Na+]o dropped from 136 ± 2 mmol/L to 91.8 ± 1.1 mmol/L, and [K+]o increased from 5.9 ± 0.1 mmol/L to 12.2 ± 1.6 mmol/L (P < .001 vs. control). [Na+]o and [K+]o after flush-out did not equilibrate with [Na+]sol and [K+]sol after 24 hours of cold storage. Rat livers preserved in low-K+ solutions produced significantly more bile during isolated reperfusion and released less alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, and lactate dehydrogenase into the reperfusion medium than high-K+ solutions. Rat liver survival after 14 hours of preservation was higher in low-K+ solutions (13 of 13) than in high-K+ solutions (7 of 13). Those studies indicate that during cold storage of rat livers, transmembraneous Na+-K+ sodium-potassium exchange might not follow the 3:2 stochiometry of a sole sodium-potassium exchange via Na+-K+ sodium-potassium adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase), and that low-K+ solutions might improve graft function and survival after rat liver preservation.