A novel "multicoaxial hollow fiber bioreactor" has been developed consisting of four concentric tubes, the two innermost tubes are called hollow fibers. Bioartificial livers are created by culturing liver progenitors in the space between the two innermost hollow fibers and with culture media contained in the two compartments (intracapillary and extracapillary) sandwiching the cell compartment. The outermost compartment is used for gas exchange. A hydrodynamic model has recently been established to predict the optimum hydraulic permeability and bioreactor operational parameters to create the physicochemical environment found in the liver acinus. However, perfusion with serum-free hormonally-defined media and inoculation of cells introduces membrane fouling into the equation, and this parameter must be incorporated into the model. Using commercially available semipermeable hollow fibers (1 mm [0.65 microm pores] and 3 mm [0.1 microm pores] outer diameters [o.d]), the primary cause of resistance is the middle hollow fiber. Preliminary studies using bioreactors inoculated with isolated rat hepatocytes and perfused with serum-containing culture media demonstrated that the middle hollow fiber is the primary site of fouling, and this fouling ultimately causes cell mortality by blocking the transfer of nutrients. Experiments were performed to determine the best commercially available middle hollow fiber for construction of bioreactors and two 3-mm outer-diameter middle hollow fibers were compared polypropylene and polysulfone, with 0.2 microm and 0.1 microm pore sizes, respectively. Dead-ended and cross flow configurations were compared for their effectiveness at reducing membrane fouling in the middle hollow fiber by determining the change in resistance with time. The results demonstrate that the 0.2-microm pore size polypropylene hollow fiber is the best choice for construction of the multicoaxial hollow-fiber bioreactor, and that cross flow results in two orders of magnitude lower resistance than dead-ended flow after 36 h.