Aqueous two-phase systems are composed of aqueous solutions of either two water-soluble polymers, usually polyethylene glycol (PEG) and dextran (Dx), or a polymer and a salt, usually PEG and phosphate or sulfate. Partitioning of proteins in such systems provides a powerful method for separating and purifying mixtures of biomolecules by extraction. If one of the phase forming polymers is a crosslinked gel, then the solution-controlled gel sorption may be considered as a modification of aqueous two-phase extraction. Since PEG/dextran systems are widely used in aqueous two-phase extraction and dextran gels (Sephadex) are common chromatographic media, we choose a PEG/dextran gel system as a model system in this study. The partitioning behavior of pure bovine serum albumin (BSA) in PEG/dextran gel systems is investigated to see the effects of variations in PEG and NaCl concentrations on the partition coefficient K. By making use of the Box-Wilson experimental design, K is shown to be maximized at 9.8 (%, w/w) PEG and 0.2 M NaCl concentrations, respectively, as 182. (C) 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.