We determined sensitive markers of coagulation and fibrinolysis in plasma of 20 patients with malignant colorectal disease as compared to 17 patients with benign colorectal disease. Thrombin/antithrombin III complex (TAT), soluble fibrin (SF), total fibrinogen and fibrin degradation products (TDP), plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1), urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and uPA receptor (uPAR) were measured preoperatively, starting anesthesia, during surgery and postoperatively. The purpose was to verify the supposed hypercoagulable state of cancer patients. In addition, we investigated whether the hemostatic alterations induced by general anesthesia and major abdominal surgery differed between the two groups. Patients with colorectal cancer showed initially an altered balance of hemostasis with a preponderance of procoagulant activity and fibrinolytic inhibition, as noted by marginally elevated TAT and PAI-1 plasma levels. The stimulus of anesthesia induction alone was sufficient to trigger not only activation of coagulation in these patients but also further activation of fibrinolysis and increased fibrinolytic inhibition. The marked activation of coagulation and fibrinolysis and enhanced fibrinolytic inhibition during surgery was more pronounced in patients with malignancy as compared to the control group. Postoperatively, a shift of the normal balance of hemostasis with a slight preponderance of fibrinolytic inhibition was observed, as evidenced by a marginally elevated PAI-1 plasma levels. The results of this study strengthen the hypothesis of a hypercoagulable state in patients with colorectal malignancy that may favor the development of thrombosis in this patient group.