The advent of molecular characterization of tissues has brought an increasing emphasis on the quality of biospecimens, starting with the tissue procurement process. RNA levels are particularly affected by factors in the collection process, but the influence of different pre-analytical factors is not well understood. Here we present the influence of tissue specimen size, as well as the transport and freezing protocols, on RNA quality. Large, medium, and smaller porcine liver samples were stored either dry, on moist gauze, or in salt solution for various times, and then frozen in either liquid nitrogen or in pre-cooled isopentane. Large and small human liver samples were frozen in pre-cooled isopentane either immediately or after one hour at room temperature. The small samples were stored dry, on moist gauze, or in salt solution. RNA was isolated and RIN values were measured. The RNA for six standard reference genes from human liver was analyzed by RT-qPCR, and tissue morphology was assessed for artifacts of freezing. Experiments using porcine liver samples showed that RNA derived from smaller samples was more degraded after one hour of cold ischemia, and that cooled transport is preferable. Human liver samples showed significant RNA degradation after 1h of cold ischemia, which was more pronounced in smaller samples. RNA integrity was not significantly influenced by the transport or freezing method, but changes in gene expression were observed in samples either transported on gauze or in salt solution. Based on observations in liver samples, smaller samples are more subject to gene expression variability introduced by post-excision sample handling than are larger samples. Small biopsies should be transported on ice and snap frozen as soon as possible after acquisition from the patient.