Separation of functional magnetic particles or magnetically labeled entities is a key feature for bioanalytical or biomedical applications and therefore also an important component of lab-on-a-chip devices for biological applications. We present a novel integrated microfluidic magnetic bead manipulation device, comprising dosing of magnetic particles, controlled release and subsequent magnetophoretic size separation with high resolution. The system is designed to meet the requirements of specific bioassays, in particular of on-chip agglutination assays for the detection of rare analytes by particle coupling as doublets. Integrated soft-magnetic microtips with different shapes provide the magnetic driving force of the bead manipulation protocol. The magnetic tips that serve as field concentrators of an external electromagnetic field, are positioned in close contact to a microfluidic channel in order to generate high magnetic actuation forces. Mixtures of 1.0 mu m and 2.8 mu m superparamagnetic beads have been used to characterize the system. Magnetophoretic size separation with high resolution was performed in static conditions and in continuous flow mode. In particular, we could demonstrate the separation of 1.0 mu m single beads and doublets in a sample flow. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.