Polymeric resins with high n-butanol adsorption affinities were identified from a candidate pool of commercially available materials representing a wide array of physical and chemical properties. Resin hydrophobicity, which was dictated by the chemical structure of its constituent monomer units, most greatly influenced the resin-aqueous equilibrium partitioning of n-butanol whereas ionic functionalization appeared to have no effect. In general, those materials derived from poly(styrene-co-divinylbenzene) possessed the greatest n-butanol affinity, while the adsorption potential of these resins was limited by their specific surface area. Resins were tested for their ability to serve as effective in situ product recovery (ISPR) devices in the n-butanol fermentation by Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824. In small-scale batch fermentations, the addition of 0.05 kg/L Dowex® Optipore SD-2 facilitated achievement of effective n-butanol titers as high as 2.22% (w/v), well above the inhibitory threshold of C. acetobutylicum ATCC 824, and nearly twice that of traditional, single-phase fermentations. Retrieval of n-butanol from resins via thermal treatment was demonstrated with high efficiency and predicted to be economically favorable. Due to its modular nature, the proposed ISPR design exhibits strong potential for compatibility with future n-butanol fermentation efforts. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009; 102: 811–821. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.