AIM: To investigate glucose homeostasis and in particular gluconeogenesis in a large animal model of acute liver failure (ALF).METHODS: Six pigs with paracetamol induced ALF under general anaesthesia were studied over 25 h. Plasma samples were withdrawn every five hours from a central vein. Three animals were used as controls and were maintained under anaesthesia only. Using 1H NMR spectroscopy we identified most gluconeogenic amino acids along with lactate and pyruvate in the animal plasma samples.RESULTS: No significant changes were observed in the concentrations of the amino acids studied in the animals maintained under anaesthesia only. If we look at the ALF animals, we observed a statistically significant rise of lactate (P < 0.003) and pyruvate (P < 0.018) at the end of the experiments. We also observed statistically significant rises in the concentrations of alanine (P < 0.002), glycine (P < 0.005), threonine (P < 0.048), tyrosine (P < 0.000), phenylalanine (P < 0.000) and isoleucine (P < 0.01). Valine levels decreased significantly (P < 0.05).CONCLUSION: Our pig model of ALF is characterized by an altered gluconeogenetic capacity, an impaired tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and a glycolytic state.