RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: It is known that manganese dipyridoxal diphosphate (Mn-DPDP) causes persisting liver enhancement in cholestatic rats, that free Mn++ plus bilirubin induces intrahepatic cholestasis, and that free Mn++ is released in vivo after Mn-DPDP injection. Hence, there is a concern about potential secondary intrahepatic cholestasis in patients who have biliary obstruction. In this study, we further investigated this issue. METHODS: Removable total biliary obstruction (RTBO) was induced in 12 rats. Six of them (group A) received Mn-DPDP (25 mumol/kg). The others (group B) served as control animals. The data from serial magnetic resonance imaging and serum bilirubin tests were compared. RESULTS: Without Mn-DPDP, a minimal increase of the liver intensity was observed in both groups because of cholestasis. In group A, the intensity of the liver was strongly enhanced with Mn-DPDP but normalized within 48 hr after removal of the obstruction. In both groups, total bilirubin levels increased up to 131.67 mumol/l 2 days after RTBO but rapidly decreased within 4 hr and almost normalized within 24 hr after removal of the obstruction, suggesting a lack of Mn-DPDP influence on the bilirubin level. CONCLUSION: We found that Mn-DPDP did not cause secondary intrahepatic cholestasis. Retained Mn++ is likely eliminated after restoration of bile flow. These results indicate that Mn-DPDP can be used in patients who have obstructive jaundice as long as it is followed by successful bile drainage.