Phospholipid membranes play a significant role during the proteolytic activation of blood coagulation proteins. This investigation identifies a role for phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) during the activation of factor X by the tenase complex, an enzymatic complex composed of the serine protease, factor IXa, a protein cofactor, factor VIIIa, a phospholipid membrane, and Ca(2+). Phospholipid vesicles composed of PE, phosphatidylserine (PS), and phosphatidylcholine support factor Xa generation. The K(m) and k(cat) for factor X activation by the tenase complex are independent of PE in the presence of 20% PS. At lower PS concentrations, the presence of 20 or 35% PE lowers the K(m) and increases the k(cat) as compared to those in vesicles without PE. The effect of PE on the k(cat) of the tenase complex is mediated through factor VIIIa. PE also enhances factor Xa generation by facilitating tenase complex formation; PE lowers the K(d(app)) of factor IXa for both phospholipid/Ca(2+) and phospholipid/Ca(2+)/factor VIIIa complexes in the presence of suboptimal PS. In addition, the K(d)s of factor IXa and factor X were lower for phospholipid vesicles containing PE. N-Methyl-PE increased the k(cat) and decreased the K(d(app)), whereas N,N-dimethyl-PE had no effect on either parameter, indicating the importance of headgroup size. Lyso-PE had no effect on kinetic parameters, indicating the sn-2 acyl chain dependence of the PE effect. Together, these results demonstrate a role for PE in the assembly and activity of the tenase complex and further extend the understanding of the importance of PE-containing membranes in hemostasis.