BACKGROUND: Anesthesia and surgery may exacerbate liver function in patients with pre-existing liver disease so it is important to choose less hepatotoxic anesthetics in patients with chronic liver disease. METHODS: This study was designed to examine the postoperative liver function test in 150 patients after hepatectomy with portal triad clamping through retrospective chart review. Patients were divided into an isoflurane group (group I, n = 56) and a propofol group (group P, n = 57) by used anesthetics for maintaining anesthesia. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), lactate dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, albumin, and prothrombin time were checked at preoperation, and postoperatively at 1, 3, 7 and 14 days in the two groups. Indocyanine retention rate (ICG-R15) was measured at preoperation, and postoperatively at 1 and 7 days. RESULTS: AST values increased postoperatively at 1, 3, 7, and 14 days compared with preoperation. ALT values increased postoperatively at 1, 3 and 7 days compared with preoperation and there was difference between group I (443.8 +/- 52.1 U/L) and group P (202.7 +/- 24.7 U/L) at postoperative 1 day. Other values had no significant difference between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: Though it might need a well controlled study to find the differences in effect between isoflurane and propofol on the postoperative liver function test, we concluded that total intravenous anesthesia using propofol is also one of the safest anesthetic methods for hepatic resection with minimal hepatotoxicity.