We have examined the effect of liposome size on liposome circulation time in the blood. Liposomes composed of phosphatidylcholine, cholesterol and ganglioside GM1 were prepared in the various size range. Optimal circulation activity (55% injected dose at 4 h post injection) of GM1-containing liposomes, which correlated with a relatively high uptake of liposomes by EMT6 tumor in mouse, was obtained with a size range of 70 to 200 nm in diameter. Increasing the diameter of liposome to greater than 200 nm resulted in an enhancement of the spleen uptake and decrease of the blood level. For liposomes with a diameter of less than 70 nm, 70% of the injected dose were taken up by the liver, presumably by the parenchymal cells. In contrast, the biodistribution of phosphatidylserine-containing liposomes was relatively insensitive to changes in liposome size; most of the injected dose was found in the liver. The effect of RES blockade on the circulation time of large (d greater than 300 nm), GM1-containing liposomes was also studied. Dextran sulfate 500, a commonly used blockade reagent for Kupffer cells, had no effect. On the other hand, preinjection of a large dose of liposomes with a diameter greater than 500 nm showed variable results depending on the lipid composition of the blocking liposomes. Preinjection of liposomes containing GM1, phosphatidylinositol or (N-polyethyleneglycol) phosphatidylethanolamine effectively reduced the spleen uptake of the large GM1-containing liposomes, whereas liposomes containing phosphatidic acid showed no effect. These results indicate that only spleen homing liposomes can be used as a blocking reagent to prolong the circulation time of the large GM1-containing liposomes.