Studies on the frozen storage of human blood products have benefited veterinary transfusion medicine in recent years, but the long-term cryopreservation of canine red blood cells (RBCs) has not yet been thoroughly investigated. Further, no studies are available with respect to the frozen storage of leukocyte-depleted canine red blood cells (LD-RBCs). The objective of the current study was to investigate time-dependent effects of long-term frozen storage on leukocyte-depleted canine RBCs. Twelve healthy adult dogs meeting the criteria for blood transfusion were used in the study. Whole blood samples (450 +/- 45 ml) collected from each dog were centrifuged for 5 min at 22 degrees C and 4200 x g in a cryogenic microcentrifuge and concentrated RBC (pRBC) suspensions were obtained. Leukocyte depletion was achieved by filtration (2.6 log(10)). Then, the filtrated samples were prewashed three times in 0.9% NaCl solution and were allocated into three subgroups to be evaluated at three different time points (Day 0, Month 4 and Month 6). The samples for cryopreservation were subjected to glycerolisation and then stored at -80 degrees C for 4- and 6-month periods. At the end of this period pRBC units were thawed by manual agitation in a water bath maintained at 36-38 degrees C, centrifuged and then washed in a consecutive series of 12%, 1.6% and 0.9% of NaCl + 0.2 dextrose solutions. 2,3-Diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG), adenosine triphosphate (ATP), supernatant haemoglobin (SupHb), sodium (Na+) and potassium (K+) levels, residual glycerol concentrations and haemograms of thawed and deglycerolised pRBC samples were evaluated together with those of Day 0. Sterility tests were performed on all samples for bacterial contamination. No statistically significant differences were noted except for Hct and SupHb levels. No bacterial contamination was noted in any of the samples on the basis of sterility tests. It was found that the described glycerolisation procedure could be a method of choice in the cryopreservation of leukocyte-depleted pRBCs (LD-pRBCs) since no negative effect was observed on the quality of the products and long-term frozen storage did not cause RBC destruction.