Endotoxins are biologically active substances derived from the cell wall of degraded gram-negative bacteria. Since sterile water may also contain large amounts of endotoxins, these are easily introduced into the manufacturing processes of technical medical material, such as the extracorporeal components used in cardiopulmonary bypass. In hemodialysis, the presence of endotoxins has been related to untoward effects in patients. Using the limulus amebocyte lysate test, we determined the serum concentration of endotoxin in 42 patients undergoing coronary bypass operations. The values increased during cardiopulmonary bypass, exceeding the normal range of 0 to 20 ng/L in 10 patients with a maximum of 82 ng/L, which probably indicates endotoxin release from the extracorporeal equipment. We found no obvious relation to postoperative morbidity. The endotoxin levels of this study are considerably lower than those reported in two other studies of patients having cardiopulmonary bypass. This might be due to less intraoperative contamination but possibly also to differences in analytic methods.