Virus inactivation in red blood cell concentrates (RBCC) is being studied in order to increase the safety of the blood supply. For this purpose we have been studying the silicon phthalocyanine (Pc 4), a photosensitizer activated with red light. Two approaches were used to achieve enhanced selectivity of Pc 4 for virus inactivation. One was formulation of Pc 4 in liposomes that reduce its binding to red cells. The other was the use of a light emitting diode (LED) array emitting at 700 nm. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infectivity served as an endpoint for virus kill in treated RBCC. Red cell hemolysis and circulatory survival in rabbits served as measures for red cell damage. Treatment of small aliquots of human RBCC with 2 μM Pc 4 in liposomes and 10 J/cm2 of 700 nm LED light in the presence of the quenchers of reactive oxygen species glutathione and trolox resulted in 6 log10 inactivation of VSV. Under these conditions hemolysis of treated red cells stored at 4 °C for 21 days was only slightly above that of control cells. Rabbit RBCC similarly treated circulated with a half life of 7.5 days compared with 10.5 days of control. It is concluded that Pc 4 used as described here may be useful for viral decontamination of RBCC, pending toxicological and clinical studies. © 1999 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.