Isolation of phenotypically-pure cell subpopulations from heterogeneous cell mixtures such as blood is a difficult yet fundamentally important task. Current techniques such as fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS) and magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) require pre-incubation with antibodies which lead to processing times of at least 15–60 min. In this study, we explored the use of antibody-coated microfluidic chambers to negative deplete undesired cell types, thus obtaining an enriched cell subpopulation at the outlet. We used human lymphocyte cell lines, MOLT-3 and Raji, as a model system to examine the dynamic cell binding behavior on antibody coated surfaces under shear flow. Shear stress ranging between 0.75 and 1.0 dyn/cm2 was found to provide most efficient separation. Cell adhesion was shown to follow pseudo-first order kinetics, and an anti-CD19 coated (Raji-depletion) device with ∼2.6 min residence time was demonstrated to produce 100% pure MOLT-3 cells from 50-50 MOLT-3/Raji mixture. We have developed a mathematical model of the separation device based on the experimentally determined kinetic parameters that can be extended to design future separation modules for other cell mixtures. We conclude that we can design microfluidic devices that exploits the kinetics of dynamic cell adhesion to antibody coated surfaces to provide enriched cell subpopulations within minutes of total processing time. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.