To elucidate the anti-ulcer potential of Cladosiphon fucoidan, anti-peptic activity, bFGF stabilizing activity and inflammatory properties of this and related substances were investigated. Anti-peptic activity was observed with this and other sulfated polysaccharides such as dextran sulfate, carrageenan, and Fucus fucoidan. However, non-sulfated polysaccharides such as mannan and dextran did not exert the anti-peptic activity. The loss of bFGF bioactivity was prevented by all sulfated polysaccharides tested except chondroitin sulfate, at pH 7.4 and at pH 4.0. At pH 2.0, only heparin protected the bFGF activity. The generation of superoxide by macrophages and PMNs was stimulated by dextran sulfate, carrageenan, and Fucus fucoidan, whereas Cladosiphon fucoidan, heparin and chondroitin did not. Dextran sulfate, carrageenan, and Fucus fucoidan also stimulated the secretion of TNFalpha from macrophages, while Cladosiphon fucoidan did not. Thus, Cladosiphon fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide without inflammatory action. These results suggest that Cladosiphon fucoidan is a safe substance with potential for gastric protection.