Abstract: A study of open shell flow through a hollow fiber bioartificial liver with a cell packed shell region (the extracapillary space between the fibers) was performed. Previous analyses of flow through a hollow fiber bioartificial liver have ignored the porous nature of the shell region. Existing analytic expressions were used to describe the flow through the porous hollow fibers, and the flow through the shell region was described using Darcy's law. The operational parameters were taken from clinical trials of the Hepatix extracorporeal liver assist device (ELAD). From the experimental parameters, the permeability value of the cell packed shell region of the ELAD was determined. The results suggest the possible formation of preferential flow channels and hypoperfusion of many cells leading to an inadequately functioning bioreactor. Some simple design changes may improve the performance of the ELAD.