Twenty-five cases of rapidly developing ascites occurring in an epidemic form were observed in a tribal district in Central India during August 1972-May 1973. Eleven of the patients died. Six patients were brought to hospital and studied for periods of two to 17 months. Necropsy was performed on one patient who died. The clinical features suggested an outflow tract obstruction such as a Budd-Chiari-like syndrome or venoocclusive disease. Radiographic and haemodynamic studies demonstrated a combination of post and perisinusoidal blocks. Liver dysfunction was indicated by the presence of a marked bromsulphthalein retention and mild to moderate hypoalbuminaemia. Histological examination of the liver biopsies showed changes that ranged from centrizonal haemorrhagic necrosis to an extensive centrilobular fibrosis associated with central vein occlusion. The disease was apparently caused by a food toxin, and the possible nature of this is discussed.
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