Gas chromatographic and gas chromatographic--mass spectrometric analytical techniques were employed to quantitate and confirm levels of circulating organic plasticizers in critically ill surgical patients. Two plasticizers, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), have been identified. DEHP can be found in many plastic medical devices. The DEHP levels were significant soon after transfusion or in the presence of renal dysfunction. The source of DBP is not clear at present and requires further study. The prevention of this contamination and the toxicity of these plasticizers should be investigated to ensure the safe use of plastic medical devices.