Polymyxin B (PB), a cyclic polypeptide antibiotic, has potent antiendotoxin properties but is associated with significant toxicity when given parenterally. As an alternative, PB was immobilized on a solid phase (Sepharose 4B; Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden), and a system of plasmapheresis was developed in the conscious rat, with specific on-line plasma adsorption of endotoxin by a PB-Sepharose column. PB-Sepharose columns removed 94% of a challenge dose of 5 micrograms of endotoxin in vitro. Rats were pretreated with lead acetate so that they were sensitized to endotoxin and then given 10 micrograms of endotoxin/kg intraarterially. After 15 min plasmapheresis was begun and continued for 90 min. Animals whose plasma was perfused over PB-Sepharose were protected from endotoxin-induced leukopenia (P less than .01), thrombocytopenia (P less than .001), and death (four of four survivors compared with none of four controls). Thus plasmapheresis with on-line removal of endotoxin is a safe and highly effective means of protecting animals from the effects of endotoxemia.