A pilot-scale demonstration of surfactant-enhanced aquifer remediation (SEAR) was conducted to recover dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) tetrachloroethene (PCE) from a sandy glacial outwash aquifer underlying a former dry cleaning facility at the Bachman Road site in Oscoda, MI. Part one of this two-part paper describes site characterization efforts and a comprehensive approach to SEAR test design, effectively integrating laboratory and modeling studies. Aquifer coring and drive point sampling suggested the presence of PCE-DNAPL in a zone beneath an occupied building. A narrow PCE plume emanating from the vicinity of this building discharges into Lake Huron. The shallow unconfined aquifer, characterized by relatively homogeneous fine-medium sand deposits, an underlying clay layer, and the absence of significant PCE transformation products, was judged suitable for the demonstration of SEAR. Tween 80 was selected for application based upon its favorable solubilization performance in batch and two-dimensional sand tank treatability studies, biodegradation potential, and regulatory acceptance. Three-dimensional flow and transport models were employed to develop a robust design for surfactant delivery and recovery. Physical and fiscal constraints led to an unusual hydraulic design, in which surfactant was flushed across the regional groundwater gradient, facilitating the delivery of concentrations of Tween 80 exceeding 1% (wt) throughout the treatment zone. The potential influence of small-scale heterogeneity on PCE-DNAPL distribution and SEAR performance was assessed through numerical simulations incorporating geostatistical permeability fields based upon available core data. For the examined conditions simulated PCE recoveries ranged from 94 to 99%. The effluent treatment system design consisted of low-profile air strippers coupled with carbon adsorption to trap off-gas PCE and discharge of treated aqueous effluent to a local wastewater treatment plant. The systematic and comprehensive design methodology described herein may serve as a template for application at other DNAPL sites.