Liposomal cefoxitin was prepared and applied to the pretreatment of human saphenous vein (HSV) for implantation. The possible use of liposomal cefoxitin to improve cellular viability and function and to maintain its potential sterilization effect was investigated. Entrapment efficiency and size distribution of liposomal cefoxitin were 75.7% and 652 +/- 75.7 nm, respectively. The weight ratio between cefoxitin and liposome was calculated at 1 : 40.6. When cefoxitin was entrapped with liposome, the released amount of cefoxitin was not affected by temperature conditions (37 degrees C, 25 degrees C, and 4 degrees C). The amount of free cefoxitin present in HSV reached 59% at 0.5 h and gradually decreased with time, while liposomal cefoxitin showed a maximum amount (63%) at 1.5 h, indicating that liposomal cefoxitin seemed to control the initial amount of cefoxitin present in HSV. Liposomal cefoxitin showed better viabilities of whole cells and endothelial cells dissociated from HSV than free cefoxitin and remarkably superior function of endothelial cells, as determined by Griffonia simplicifolia agglutinins-fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide double-staining methods combined with flow cytometry and endothelial nitric oxide synthase assay, respectively. In terms of sterilization effect, there was no significant difference between liposomal cefoxitin and free cefoxitin. These results suggest that liposomal entrapment of cefoxitin could improve cellular viability and functions and maintain the original sterilization effect.