To clarify the role of thrombopoietin (c-Mpl ligand, TPO) in ‘hypersplenic’ thrombocytopenia, we used an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to examine changes in serum TPO levels accompanied with splenectomy in 6 patients with liver cirrhosis, 4 patients with gastric cancer, and 2 patients with lymphoid malignancies. We also measured serum levels of other thrombopoietic cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and erythropoietin. Platelet counts reached a maximum at day 14 after splenectomy in all subjects. In patients with liver cirrhosis, a lower elevation of platelet counts was observed compared with that in patients with gastric cancer. Serum TPO levels gradually elevated after splenectomy and reached a maximum 3.5 days after splenectomy in noncirrhotic patients, whereas peak serum TPO levels were delayed until day 7 in the cirrhosis group. IL-6 and erythropoietin showed similar kinetics between cirrhotic and noncirrhotic patients. These findings suggest that transient thrombocytosis after splenectomy may be associated with an alteration in the site of TPO catabolism by platelets from spleen to the blood and that deterioration of TPO production may play a role in thrombocytopenia in liver cirrhosis.