Removal of virus infectivity from blood and biopharmaceutical products prepared from blood is an issue of considerable importance. For biopharmaceutical products, removal can usually be achieved by a series of fractionation steps or by inactivation with a suitable reagent. Irrespective of the methods that are chosen it is vital that the biological activity of the product is not impaired. For blood and unfractionated plasma or serum, the problem is even more challenging. Selective inactivation of the genome is the key step in the preparation of killed virus vaccines. Viruses belonging to all the recognised families can be inactivated by imines. In this paper it is shown that the biological properties of several proteins, including the cell growth-promoting factors in calf serum, are not impaired using conditions which ensure the inactivation of > 10(15) infectious units of poliovirus and foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV). Also shown is that both viruses can be inactivated by imines at 4 degrees C, thus providing a method for removing infectivity from protein preparations which are unstable at higher temperatures. The RNA extracted from FMDV inactivated at 4 degrees C was not degraded and contained no hidden breaks but nevertheless was non-infectious. However, it could be amplified by PCR using primers corresponding to the gene coding for a portion of the viral RNA polymerase, but not from that coding for VP1, one of the structural proteins, showing that alteration of a base or bases had occurred in that region. Surprisingly, it could be translated in the rabbit reticulocyte system although some of the products were different from those obtained with unmodified RNA.