The adhesion of human blood platelets onto vascular catheters was studied using a specially designed perfusion chamber. Polyurethane catheters were exposed to citrated human blood for different periods (up to 20 min) and at different wall shear rates (190, 260, 330 sec-1). The rate of platelet adhesion was determined using 111In-labeled platelets, while the morphology of adhering platelets was investigated using scanning electron microscopy. A linear increase in platelet adhesion was found within the first 10 min of perfusion, after which a plateau value was reached. The number of adhering platelets did not vary significantly with the shear rates applied, which may indicate that within the range of shear rates studied, the adhesion of platelets onto the catheter surface is mainly determined by the rate of the reaction between the platelets and the material surface. Catheters coated with a conjugate of heparin and albumin showed a four- to five-fold reduction in platelet adhesion as compared to uncoated catheters. This reduction in platelet adhesion was not only due to the presence of albumin moieties at the surface but also to the presence of heparin residues in the adsorbed albumin-heparin conjugate.