With the discovery of important biological roles of carbon monoxide (CO), the use of this gas as a therapeutic agent has attracted attention. However, the medical application of this gas has been hampered by the complexity of the administration method. To overcome this problem, several transition-metal carbonyl complexes, such as Ru(CO)(3)Cl(glycinate), [Ru(CO)(3)Cl-2](2), and Fe(eta(4)-2-pyrone)(CO)(3), have been used as CO-releasing molecules both in vitro and in vivo. We sought to develop micellar forms of metal carbonyl complexes that would display slowed diffusion in tissues and thus better ability to target distal tissue drainage sites. Specifically, we aimed to develop a new CO-delivery system using a polymeric micelle having a Ru(CO)(3)Cl(amino acidate) structure as a CO-releasing segment. The CO-releasing micelles were prepared from triblock copolymers composed of a hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol) block, a poly(ornithine acrylamide) block bearing Ru(CO)(3)Cl(ornithinate) moieties, and a hydrophobic poly(n-butylacrylamide) block. The polymers formed spherical micelles in the range of 30-40 nm in hydrodynamic diameter. Further characterization revealed the high CO-loading capacity of the micelles. CO-release studies showed that the micelles were stable in physiological buffer and serum and released CO in response to thiol-containing compounds such as cysteine. The CO release of the micelles was slower than that of Ru(CO)(3)Cl(glycinate). In addition, the CO-releasing micelles efficiently attenuated the lipopolysaccharide-induced NF-kappa B activation of human monocytes, while Ru(CO)(3)Cl(glycinate) did not show any beneficial effects. Moreover, cell viability assays revealed that the micelles significantly reduced the cytotoxicity of the Ru(CO)(3)Cl(amino acidate) moiety. This novel CO-delivery system based on CO-releasing micelles may be useful for therapeutic applications of CO.