Human hemoglobin A has been crosslinked by diisothiocyanatobenzenesulfonate to give a limited number of products in a yield of approximately 70%. The predominant product was crosslinked between subunits within a tetramer and had a Mr of 64,000; no higher Mr species were formed. This product had one crosslink per tetramer located between the NH2 termini of its alpha chains, as established by HPLC analysis, amino acid analysis, Edman degradation, and mass spectrometry. This crosslinked derivative had a slightly increased oxygen affinity [P50 = 9 mmHg (1 mmHg = 133 Pa); P50 for unmodified hemoglobin = 11 mmHg], and the retention time of this derivative in the circulation of rats was 2.9 and 3.3 hr at two hemoglobin concentrations (7 g/dl and 14 g/dl, respectively). The half-life of an uncrosslinked carboxymethylated derivative, which has a low oxygen affinity (P50 = 28 mmHg), was 0.6 and 0.7 hr under the same conditions. Therefore, prolongation of the plasma-retention time of infused hemoglobin is dependent on the crosslinking of the tetramer but independent of the oxygen affinity of the derivative.