Bioartificial liver (BAL) support system has been proposed as potential treatment method for end-stage liver diseases. We described an improved BAL system based on a choanoid fluidized bed bioreactor containing alginate–chitosan encapsulated primary porcine hepatocytes. The feasibility, safety, and efficiency of this device were estimated using an allogeneic fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) model. FHF was induced with intravenous administration of D-galactosamine. Thirty FHF pigs were divided into three groups: (1) an FHF group which was only given intensive care; (2) a sham BAL group which was treated with the BAL system with empty encapsulation, and (3) a BAL group which was treated with the BAL system containing encapsulated freshly isolated primary porcine hepatocytes. The survival times and biochemical parameters of these animals were measured, and properties of the encapsulations and hepatocytes before and after perfusion were also evaluated. Compared to the two control groups, the BAL-treated group had prolonged the survival time and decreased the blood lactate levels, blood glucose, and amino acids remained stable. No obvious ruptured beads or statistical decline in viability or function of encapsulated hepatocytes were observed. This new fluidized bed BAL system is safe and efficient. It may represent a feasible alternative in the treatment of liver failure. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2011;108:2229–2236. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.