Autologous shed blood for autotransfusion was evaluated at four medical centers in a prospective randomized study. One hundred twenty-eight patients were studied after hip replacement, knee replacement, or spine fusion. The efficacy of autologous shed blood in reducing homologous transfusion was evaluated. The relative risk of transfusion with homologous blood was 0.4 in patients who received shed blood compared with patients who did not receive shed blood. The reinfusion of shed blood reduced the requirement for homologous blood by 60%. Two filter systems were evaluated in reinfusing autologous shed blood. The Pall RC100 filter appeared to be more effective than the Pall 40-μ screen filter in removing fat particles and white blood cells. No significant clinical abnormalities were discovered after autotransfusion with autologous shed blood. Evaluation of clotting studies showed no significant differences between patients who received shed blood and patients who received liquid-preserved red blood cells. These data indicate that unwashed autologous shed blood from orthopaedic wound drainage is a safe and effective substitute for transfusion of autologous predonated blood or homologous liquid-preserved red blood cells.