The biochemical and biophysical properties of isolated haemosiderins have been compared to that of another iron-containing protein, termed prehaemosiderin, which sediments through chaotropic potassium iodide only after 20 h of ultracentrifugation, in contrast to that of haemosiderin which is recovered after 2 h of ultracentrifugation. The iron/protein ratio and iron/phosphate ratio were less that that of the corresponding haemosiderin, while the elemental composition was also reduced in many of the prehaemosiderin samples. Mossbauer spectroscopy and electron diffraction identified the predominant presence of ferrihydrite in prehaemosiderin species even though the secondary haemochromatosis haemosiderin iron cores were essentially goethite-like. The majority of the prehaemosiderins isolated showed the presence of an additional peptide band at 17 kDa in addition to that at 21 kDa. Further Mossbauer studies of haemosiderin isolated from untreated secondary haemochromatosis patients showed that goethite was the predominant form of iron present, thereby indicating that the presence of this form of ferrihydrite was not wholly attributable to chelation therapy.