This study was designed to evaluate factors that affect blood volumes transferred to skin during simulated needlestick injuries in an in vitro paper prefilter model and an ex vivo porcine tissue model. The effect of needle type and size, penetration depth, and glove use on the volume of radiolabeled blood transferred was determined in each model. Blood volumes ranged from 0.47 +/- 0.26 microL (30-gauge needle, 0.5-cm depth, in vitro model) to 5.88 +/- 1.45 microL (18-gauge needle, 2.0-cm depth, in vitro model). Needle size and penetration depth were significantly associated with transfer volume. Glove material reduced the transferred blood volume by 46%-86% in both models. Transfer volumes were within the same order of magnitude for all conditions. Hence, virus titer in the source blood may be a better predictor of needlestick infectivity than is exposure volume. Regardless, gloves may exert some protective effect and should be worn whenever needles are handled.