The solution usually recommended for rinsing the blood side, which is an indispensable step in preparing a dialyzer for hemodialysis (HD), contains saline and heparin. The heparin used for rinsing is said to reduce the thrombogenic properties of the dialysis membrane and, hence, also the need for systemic heparinization during the whole procedure. The aim of our study was to establish whether this postulate also applies to polysulphone steam-sterilized dialyzers. To do so, 16 patients on long-term dialysis were randomized into two groups of eight. One group was subsequently treated with polysulphone low-flux dialyzers (F6HPS), the other with polysulphone high-flux dialyzers (F6OS). Both groups were examined, in a crossover manner during HD using a dialyzer previously rinsed with 1000 ml of saline plus 2,000 IU of heparin, and during HD using a dialyzer previously rinsed with 500 ml of saline without heparin. Except for the rinsing, HD conditions were completely identical. Blood obtained before HD, and at 15, 60 and 240 min of HD at the dialyzer inlet, was used to determine the activated partial thromboplastin time (to test heparinization control), the thrombin-antithrombin III complex (ELISA, to evaluate coagulation system activation), platelet factor 4 (ELISA, a substance with antiheparin activity), and platelet count. None of the above parameters showed, at any of the collecting intervals, a statistically significant difference between HD with and without heparin with a reduced volume of rinsing solution, or between HD using low- and high-flux dialyzers. It is concluded that heparin used to rinse polysulphone dialyzers before HD has no effect on blood coagulation or on the need for heparin during the procedure.