1. Ferritin has been isolated from the serum of four patients with iron overload by using two methods. 2. In method A, the serum was adjusted to pH 4.8 and heated to 70 degrees C. After removal of denatured protein, ferritin was concentrated and further purified by ion-exchange chromatography and gel filtration. In most cases, only a partial purification was achieved. 3. In method B, ferritin was extracted from the serum with a column of immuno-adsorbent [anti-(human ferritin)] and released from the column with 3M-KSCN. Further purification was achieved by anion-exchange chromatography followed by the removal of remaining contaminating serum proteins by means of a second immunoadsorbent. Purifications of up to 31 000-fold were achieved, and the homogeneity of the final preparations was demonstrated by polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis. 4. Serum ferritin purified by either method has the same elution volume as human spleen ferritin on gel filtration on Sephadex G-200. Serum ferritin has a relatively low iron content and iron/protein ratios of 0.023 and 0.067 (mug of Fe/mug of protein) were found in two pure preparations. On anion-exchange chromatography serum ferritin has a low affinity for the column when compared with various tissue ferritins. Isoelectric focusing has demonstrated the presence of a high proportion of isoferritins of relatively high pI. 5. Possible mechanisms for the release of ferritin into the circulation are briefly discussed.

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