We have studied the blood clearance and organ uptake of colloidal particles and of antibody-coated and chemically treated Na2 51Cr O4- labeled erythrocytes (RBC) in mice. Hepatic and splenic uptake of both colloidal particles and autologous RBC coated with rabbit antibody were reduced significantly following pretreatment of animals with cortisone acetate. Hepatic removal of RBC previously treated in vitro with N- ethyl-maleimide (NEM) or phenylhydrazine-HCl (PHZ) was similarly depressed by pretreatment with cortisone. In contrast, the splenic uptake of NEM- and PHZ-altered erythrocytes was unaffected by cortisone. Scanning and transmission electron microscopic examination of perfused spleens from PHZ-injected animals demonstrated extensive mechanical trapping of Heinz body-containing RBC in sinus wall apertures, whereas little erythrophagocytosis was observed. These studies suggested that, while clearance of inert particulate matter and of antibody-coated RBC from the blood occurred primarily by a cortisone- suppressible, presumably phagocytic process in the spleen, chemically altered RBC were removed primarily by a cortisone-insensitive filtration process in the splenic microvasculature.