A cotton-bound serine protease inhibitor of elastase (fiber-inhibitor) has been formulated for in vitro evaluation in chronic wound fluid. As a model to understand the properties of the inhibitor in wound dressings, the kinetic profile and in vitro release of the fiber-inhibitor formulation have been examined. The elastase inhibitor N-Methoxysuccinyl-Ala-Ala-Pro-Val-chloromethylketone was modified onto cotton cellulose fibers and assayed as a colloidal system. Amino acid analysis and reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography were compared as semiquantitative methods to assess elastase inhibitor release from the cotton fibers. The kinetics of inhibition was assessed on treated fibers of synthetic dressings such that a colloidal suspension of the fiber-inhibitor and elastase was employed as an assay. A dose-response relationship was observed in the kinetics of substrate hydrolysis catalyzed by three elastases: porcine pancreatic elastase, which was employed to model this approach; human leukocyte elastase; and elastase in human chronic wound fluid. Both freely dissolved and fiber-bound inhibitors were studied. The initial rates of substrate hydrolysis were inversely linear with freely dissolved inhibitor dose. The apparent first order rate constants, kobs, for the elastase-inhibitor complex were calculated from the kinetic profiles. The kobs for inhibitor bound enzyme varied as a function of inhibitor vs. enzyme concentration and based on the order of mixing of substrate, inhibitor and enzyme in the assay. Enzyme inhibition by the fiber-inhibitor was measured as inhibitor concentration at 50% inhibition (I50). I50 values measured from the colloidal assay with fiber-released inhibitor were within the same range to those for freely dissolved inhibitor. Inhibition of elastase activity in chronic wound fluid was observed with 1-5 mg of fiber-inhibitor formulation. This approach constitutes an in vitro assessment of synthetic serine protease inhibitors on fibers and may be employed to evaluate structure vs. function of elastase inhibition in the modified fibers of wound dressing composites.