We recently observed inhibition of weight loss in patients with advanced nonsmall-cell lung cancer after intravenous infusion of ATP. Because liver ATP levels were found to be decreased in lung cancer patients with weight loss, the present 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) study was aimed at investigating whether ATP infusion restores liver energy status in these patients. Nine patients with advanced nonsmall-cell lung cancer (stage IIIB/IV) were studied 1 week before (baseline) and at 22 to 24 hours of continuous ATP infusion (37-75 microg/kg/min). Localized hepatic 31P MR spectra (repetition time 15 seconds), obtained in the overnight-fasted state, were analyzed for ATP and P(i) content. Ten healthy subjects (without ATP infusion) served as control. Liver ATP levels in lung cancer patients increased from 8.8 +/- 0.7% (relative to total MR-detectable phosphate; mean +/- SE) at baseline to 12.2 +/- 0.9% during ATP infusion (P <.05), i.e., a level similar to that in healthy subjects (11.9 +/- 0.9%). The increase in ATP level during ATP infusion was most prominent in patients with > or = 5% weight loss (baseline: 7.9 +/- 0.7%, during ATP infusion: 12.8 +/- 1.0%, P < 0.01). In conclusion, ATP infusion restores hepatic energy levels in patients with advanced lung cancer, especially in weight-losing patients. These changes may contribute to the previously reported beneficial effects of ATP infusion on the nutritional status of lung cancer patients.