Fulminant hepatic failure has an exceedingly high mortality. Liver transplantation is the treatment option of choice. Unfortunately, one-third of patients with fulminant hepatic failure die awaiting a donor liver. For over 35 years attempts to remove or dilute putative toxins in the blood have been unsuccessful in improving survival rates. The use of biocompatible interfaces with blood or plasma and current hepatocyte culture techniques have led to the development of new support systems. This generation of bioartificial livers will hopefully provide the necessary hepatic functions and prevent many of the complications associated with fulminant hepatic failure. This paper will review the support systems tried and currently under investigation, with an emphasis on bioartificial livers. © 1995 S. Karger AG, Basel.