The effect of negative surface charge and hydrophilic groups on liposome clearance from blood was investigated in mice using liposome-entrapped 67gallium-deferoxamine as a label. The presence of negatively-charged lipids may retard or accelerate liposome clearance. Physicochemical features contributing to optimal retardation of liposome clearance include a hydrophilic carbohydrate moiety and a sterically hindered negatively-charged group. The relevance of the negative charge steric effect is suggested by the finding that phosphatidylinositol phosphate (PIP) and trisialoganglioside (GT1) are less effective than phosphatidylinositol (PI) and monosialoganglioside (GM1), respectively, in retarding liposome clearance. The need for negative charge in addition to the carbohydrate group for optimal effect on retardation of clearance is indicated by the observation that asialoganglioside (AGM1) is less effective than GM1 in this respect. The negative charge effect is observed with liposome bilayers having both low and high temperature phase-transitions. Increasing the molar fraction of negatively-charged lipid (hydrogenated PI derived from soya) from 23 to 41% resulted in a dramatic acceleration of liposome clearance. The clearance-accelerating effect of the high negative charge was specifically directed to the liver with selective reduction of spleen uptake. Increasing liposome size also had an accelerating effect on clearance but in this case it was accompanied by a non-specific concomitant increase of both liver and spleen uptake.