Acute liver failure (ALF) is a rare but devastating clinical syndrome with multiple causes and a variable course. The mortality rate is high. Orthotopic liver transplantation is the only therapy of proven survival benefit but the limited supply of donor organs, the rapidity of progression and the variable course of ALF limit its use. A need therefore exists for a method to ‘bridge’ patients, that is, provide temporary support, to either the spontaneous regeneration of the innate liver or transplantation. One possibility includes bio-artificial liver support systems (BALSS). This technology is composed of an extracorporeal circulation system incorporating a bioreactor that contains parenchymal liver cells (hepatocytes) to perform the detoxifying, transforming and synthetic properties of a liver. However, the development of a BALSS holds particular challenges. Despite approximately four decades of research, bio-artificial liver (BAL) technology globally remains in a pre-commercial stage. The University of Pretoria (UP) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have developed a BALSS with novel characteristics. These include a computationally optimized radial-flow primary porcine hepatocyte bioreactor perfused with blood plasma, and a perfluorocarbon oxygen carrier which replaces hemoglobin. There are also novel design properties in the circulation system itself. Demonstrating the metabolic and clinical efficacy of a BAL device requires implementing, in vitro (cell biology), in vivo (animal) and mathematical modeling studies. These studies are a formal necessity but are inherently ‘models’ of the in vivo human clinical circumstance. That is, they are limited by their experimentally controlled configuration/s. In investigating these, this thesis firstly provides a foundation by reviewing the clinical and biological context of ALF and BAL technology, then presents and evaluates particular studies/models that have been implemented over several years in the course of the UP-CSIR BAL project. For each section, thoughts and recommendations regarding future work that will facilitate the development of BAL technology are discussed in detail. The thesis is concluded with an evaluation of success and the consensus-agreed requirement of continued research and innovation in the field.