The effects of thermodynamic non-ideality on the forms of sedimentation equilibrium distributions for several isoelectric proteins have been analysed on the statistical-mechanical basis of excluded volume to obtain an estimate of the extent of protein solvation. Values of the effective solvation. parameter delta are reported for ellipsoidal as well as spherical models of the proteins, taken to be rigid, impenetrable macromolecular structures. The dependence of the effective solvated radius upon protein molecular mass exhibits reasonable agreement with the relationship calculated for a model in which the unsolvated protein molecule is surrounded by a 0.52-nm solvation shell. Although the observation that this shell thickness corresponds to a double layer of water molecules may be of questionable relevance to mechanistic interpretation of protein hydration, it augurs well for the assignment of magnitudes to the second virial coefficients of putative complexes in the quantitative characterization of protein-protein interactions under conditions where effects of thermodynamic non-ideality cannot justifiably be neglected. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.