Sterically stabilized liposomes are able to localize at sites of infection and could serve as carriers of antimicrobial agents. For a rational optimization of liposome localization, the blood clearance kinetics and biodistribution of liposomes differing in poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) density, particle size, bilayer fluidity or surface charge were studied in a rat model of a unilateral pneumonia caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae. It is shown that all liposome preparations studied localize preferentially in the infected lung compared to the contralateral non-infected lung. A reduction of the PEG density or rise in particle size resulted in a higher uptake by the mononuclear phagocyte system, lower blood circulation time and lower infected lung localization. Differences in bilayer fluidity did not affect blood clearance kinetics or localization in the infected lung. Increasing the amount of negatively charged phospholipids in the liposome bilayer did not affect blood clearance kinetics, but did reduce localization of this liposome preparation at the site of lung infection. In conclusion, the degree of localization at the infected site is remarkably independent of the physicochemical characteristics of the PEG liposomes. Substantial selective liposome localization can be achieved provided that certain criteria regarding PEG density, size and inclusion of charged phospholipids are met. These properties seem to be a direct consequence of the presence of the polymer coating operating as a repulsive steric barrier opposing interactions with biological components.