Many models of trauma-hemorrhagic shock (T/HS) involve the reinfusion of anticoagulated shed blood. Our recent observation that the anticoagulant heparin induces increased mesenteric lymph lipase activity and consequent in vitro endothelial cell cytotoxicity prompted us to investigate the effect of heparin-induced lipase activity on organ injury in vivo as well as the effects of other anticoagulants on mesenteric lymph bioactivity in vitro and in vivo. To investigate this issue, rats subjected to trauma-hemorrhage had their shed blood anticoagulated with heparin, the synthetic anticoagulant arixtra (fondaparinux sodium), or citrate. Arixtra, in contrast to heparin, did not increase lymph lipase activity or result in high levels of endothelial cytotoxicity. Yet, the arixtra-treated rats subjected to T/HS still manifested lung injury, neutrophil priming, and red blood cell dysfunction, which was totally abrogated by lymph duct ligation. Furthermore, the injection of T/HS mesenteric lymph, but not sham-shock lymph, collected from the arixtra rats into control mice recreated the pattern of lung injury, polymorphonucleocyte (PMN) priming, and red blood cell dysfunction observed after actual shock. Consistent with these observations, citrate-anticoagulated rats subjected to T/HS developed lung injury, and the injection of mesenteric lymph from the citrate-anticoagulated T/HS rats into control mice also resulted in lung injury. Based on these results, several conclusions can be drawn. First, heparin-induced increased mesenteric lymph lipase activity is not responsible for the in vivo effects of T/HS mesenteric lymph. Second, heparin should be avoided as an anticoagulant when studying the biology or composition of mesenteric lymph because of its ability to cause increases in lymph lipase activity that increase the in vitro cytotoxicity of these lymph samples.