- Abstract Two processes of porphyrins in heterogeneous systems containing aqueous and membrane phases have been studied with hematoporphyrin and hematoporphyrin derivative: Dimerization equilibrium in the aqueous phases and porphyrin-membrane binding equilibrium using liposomes as models for biological membranes. The interrelationship of aqueous aggregations and membrane binding was probed and the porphyrin aggregation state in the membrane, at equilibrium, was assessed. Fluorimetric techniques were employed. The dimerization equilibrium constants, at neutral pH and 37°C were found to be 2.8 · 10 5 M −1 and 1.9 · 10 6 M −1 for hematoporphyrin and its derivative, respectively. Over a porphyrin concentration range going from monomer-dominant to dimer-dominant systems, we have found that only monomers are bound to the membrane. The respective monomer-liposome binding constants, found to be independent of the initial monomer/dimer distribution in the aqueous phase, were determined to be 1.6 · 10 3 M −1 and 4.1 · 10 3 M −1 at neutral pH and 37°C for hematoporphyrin and its derivative, respectively. The monomer-liposome interaction was found to perurb the initial monomer/dimer distribution in the aqueous phase, so that the monomers residing at equilibrium in the membrane originate from both monomers and dimers in the aqueous phase.