The objective of this investigation was to evaluate the effect of ancrod, a fibrinogenolytic protease from Malayan pit viper venom, locally delivered through a photopolymerized biodegradable hydrogel in preventing postoperative adhesions. The experimental model involved ischemic and serosal injury to the uterine horns of rats with measurement of adhesions 7 days after injury. Ancrod was delivered intravenously for 5 days preoperatively through 3 days postoperatively, intraperitoneally for 5 days preoperatively, intraperitoneally for 3 days postoperatively, and locally via the hydrogel formed upon the uterine horns by photopolymerization of an aqueous precursor solution. Systemic defibrinogenation by intravenous administration pre-through postoperatively reduced the extent of adhesions by 63% without dose sensitivity from 5 to 20 units/kg/day. Preoperative defibrinogenation by intraperitoneal administration reduced adhesion extent by up to 57%, while postoperative administration was more effective, reducing adhesions by up to 84% with a dose-dependent response from 5 to 20 units/kg/day. Administration of ancrod by local release from a tissue-adherent hydrogel was more effective than either the hydrogel alone or the same amount of ancrod administered by postoperative intraperitoneal injection. Adhesions were reduced by 82% at a local dose of 10 units/kg, compared to a reduction of 68% due to the barrier properties of the gel alone (P < 0.01) and of 19% due to the same amount of drug given at the time of surgery (P < 0.001). Local delivery of ancrod from a tissue-adherent hydrogel barrier thus provided an efficacious prevention to postoperative adhesions while permitting administration of a low total dose of the protease. [on SciFinder (R)]