Pharmaceutical giant CSL is one of Australia’s greatest corporate success stories, although its profits were forged on the sacrifice of the many thousands of Australians who gave their blood for free. In the 1980s, blood products manufactured by CSL infected thousands of Australians with Hepatitis C and HIV/Aids. Before the true extent of the medical disaster became clear, and just months before CSL’s privatisation, the then Labor government granted Commonwealth Serum Laboratories an indemnity from legal action arising from the contaminated blood. In this first part, Elizabeth Minter investigates CSL’s role. Part 2 will look at the role of the Red Cross.