This review describes disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) as a syndrome in which hemostatic factors are activated. The syndrome ranges in severity from a decompensated coagulopathy (overt-DIC) to the subclinical compensated activation of hemostatic factors (nonovert DIC). The first part of this review emphasizes two points. First, activation of the hemostatic system is controlled by a vast network of capillaries and venules through anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory regulatory factors that operate from the endothelium (e.g., protein C and thrombomodulin, tissue factor pathway inhibitor). These hemostatic regulators can be overridden by procoagulant disorders such as amniotic fluid embolism or degraded by proinflammatory disorders such as sepsis. Second, because this link between the microvascular endothelium and circulating hemostatic factors is so close, even a relatively mild disturbance of the microvasculature targeted by the inflammatory process may be reflected systemically by changes in molecular biomarkers of hemostatic activity. Therefore, application of criteria for the diagnosis of nonovert DIC should be of value in detecting a compensated response to inflammatory stress of the microvasculature in patients who are at risk before they develop an uncompensated over DIC response and organ failure. The second part of this review covers the recent experience investigators have had in diagnosing and following the response of patients to treatment with biomarkers.