In an effort to decrease deaths from gram-negative bacteremia and endotoxin shock, we treated bacteremic patients with human antiserum to endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) core. Antiserum was prepared by vaccinating healthy men with heat-killed Escherichia coli J5; this mutant lacks lipopolysaccharide oligosaccharide side chains, so that the core, which is nearly identical to that of most other gram-negative bacteria, is exposed for antibody formation. In a randomized controlled trial, patients were given either J5 antiserum or preimmune control serum intravenously, near the onset of illness. The number of deaths in the bacteremic patients was 42 of 109 (39 per cent) in controls and 23 of 103 (22 per cent) in recipients of J5 antiserum (P = 0.011). In those with profound shock, mortality was 30 of 39 (77 per cent) in controls and 18 of 41 (44 per cent) in recipients of J5 antiserum (P = 0.003). We conclude that human antiserum to the lipopolysaccharide core can substantially reduce deaths from gram-negative bacteremia.