Activated carbon (AC) has been shown to be effective in reducing serum cholesterol and triglycerides. The mechanism for this action is proposed to be a result of the removal of bile salts in the gut. In this paper, the adsorption of cholate, glycocholate, taurocholate, chenodeoxycholate and deoxycholate on AC is studied in vitro. The results indicate that AC has a high capacity for bile salts, completely removing them from solutions of up to 5 mM and at a rate consistent with physiological activity. Of the 2 types of AC tested, one was shown to exhibit greater capacity and selectivity over the other. A negligible effect was seen with variation of pH through the range 7-9. Desorption occurs in the presence of bile salt-free buffer, but to a minimal extent. Based on these data, the adsorption of bile salts by AC appears to be a likely mechanism for AC-induced reduction of serum lipids.