Taurine deficiency in patients on long-term parenteral nutrition may be involved in cholestasis. We aimed to assess plasma taurine and tauro-conjugated bile acids in adults with short-bowel syndrome and their response to intravenous taurine. Thirty-two adult patients, who had been on taurine-free parenteral nutrition for a mean of 59(SE14) months for short-bowel syndrome, were studied retrospectively. In a second study, a subgroup of ten patients with chronic cholestasis received taurine-enriched (6·0(SE0·6)mg/kg per d) parenteral nutrition for 55(SE13) months. Post-absorptive plasma taurine and bile acid concentrations were measured and liver function tests routinely sampled. At baseline, plasma taurine was lower in patients with a jejunal length of less than 35cm (group A, n 16) than in those with a jejunal length of 35cm or more (group B, n 16): 43(SE3) v. 58(SE4)μmol/l (P=0·01). The groups were no different in terms of chronic cholestasis (1/6v.1/6 patients), total bile acids (26(SE13)v.14(SE5)μmol/l) or the ratio of tauro-conjugated:glyco-conjugated bile acids (5(SE2)v.8(SE 4)%, usual range 30–60%). After supplementation, there was an increase in plasma taurine level (63(SE8)v. 43(SE4), P=0·007) but was no change in either total bile acids or the ratio of tauro-conjugated: glyco-conjugated bile acids. There was a significant decrease in aspartate aminotransferase level. Long-term parenteral nutrition for short-bowel syndrome is associated with an impaired tauro-conjugation of bile acids (enterohepatic pool), irrespective of plasma taurine level (systemic pool) and despite long-term taurine intravenous supplementation.