The effect of the organic sulphated polyanions, pentosan sulphate (SP54), dextran sulphate 500 (DS500) and suramin, have been tested on golden Syrian hamsters infected with the 263K strain of scrapie by the intraperitoneal (i.p.) or the intracerebral route. SP54 had the greatest effect in prolonging the incubation period of the disease when administered within 2 h of the i.p. inoculum. The same amount of SP54 given 24 h after scrapie inoculation had a potent effect in some animals and no effect in others. This result suggests that SP54 inhibits the uptake of the scrapie agent into the nerve endings and/or carrier cells at the site of the inoculum, i.e. the peritoneum, and that this event occurs in about 24 h. DS500 had a similar although less potent effect (22.4 days delay during the incubation period) than SP54 (54.4 days) when administered within 2 h of scrapie injection by the i.p. route, and suramin had only a minimal effect (10 days). This study suggests that treatment of scrapie and related spongiform encephalopathies of animals and man is possible only before the agent has reached the clinical target areas of the brain.