We examined whether hyperacute rejection (HAR) of a discordant xenograft in a nonhuman primate model could be inhibited by the anticomplement agents, FUT-175 (FUT) and K76COOH (K76). The inhibitory effect of FUT and K76 on baboon sera was studied in vitro by i) complement-mediated hemolysis of sheep erythrocytes (by measuring serum CH50) and ii) cytotoxicity to cultured pig kidney (PK15) cells. The in vivo administration of FUT (at 0.2-25 mg/kg/h i.v. continuously) and K76 (50 mg/kg i.v. bolus) allowed evaluation of the serum levels of these drugs. Both FUT and K76 inhibited serum CH50 in a concentration-dependent manner. An enhanced effect was obtained by combining K76 with FUT therapy. High concentrations of FUT (>10-4 M) and K76 (>103 μg/ml) were necessary to suppress serum CH50 to <5% of the normal level. However, PK15 cytotoxicity remained at >50% in the presence of i) 10-4 M of FUT, ii) 103 μg/ml of K76, and iii) 10-6 M of FUT + 103 μg/ml of K76. Pig heart transplantation (HTX) was performed in two baboons receiving FUT (1 mg/kg/h i.v. continuously) and K76 (at 200 mg/kg x1 or 400 mg/kg + 200 mg/kg x2 i.v, respectively). Cytotoxicity of the serum to PK15 cells at the time of HTX showed 39% and 1% cell death, respectively, in these two baboons, and the CH50 level was 1% (of control level) and 0%, respectively. Graft survival was 4.5 hours and 10 hours (with death of the baboon), respectively (compared with a mean of 29 minutes in control experiments). Both excised grafts showed typical features of hyperacute rejection. Immunopathological studies revealed deposition of C1q, C3d, C6, properdin, and Factor B, demonstrating that complement activation was not fully inhibited by FUT and K76. We conclude that i) FUT and K76 are indeed potent complement inhibitors, ii) the dosages of FUT and K76 necessary to suppress complement-mediated injury cannot be extrapolated from previously reported data obtained from serum CH50 levels, and iii) higher (possibly toxic) dosages will be required to inhibit complement activation completely. It seems unlikely that HAR will be prevented by these drugs alone, although they may be beneficial when combined with other forms of therapy. © Munksgaard, Copenhagen.