An ultrasound-guided portocentesis was performed in 21 clinically healthy cows, and blood was collected for haematological, biochemical and blood-gas analyses. At the same time blood samples were collected from the left jugular vein of each cow for the same analyses. Immediately after the centesis, portal blood pressure was measured. The cows were examined daily thereafter for eight days and then slaughtered for postmortem examination of the internal organs. The mean (sd) portal blood pressure was 37.1 (5.47) mmHg, and ranged from 24 to 49 mmHg. There were small but significant differences between many of the haematological and biochemical parameters in jugular and portal blood, and the concentration of bile acids was on average 2.7 times higher, and the concentration of ammonia was 19.3 times higher in portal blood. The demeanour and behaviour of the cows, and their appetite and rectal temperature remained normal during the eight-day observation period. The haematocrit, total and differential leucocyte counts, and the concentrations of total solids and fibrinogen were not affected by portocentesis. On postmortem examination, no lesions were apparent in the peritoneum, liver and portal vein.