An acidic polysaccharide with anticoagulant activity was isolated from the edible mushroom Auricularia auricula using water, alkali or acid extracts. The alkali extract showed the highest anticoagulant activity and was thereby further purified using gel filtration chromatography. Specific anticoagulant activity of the purified polysaccharide was 2 IU/mg and its average mass was approximately 160 kDa. The polysaccharide from this species of mushroom contains mainly mannose, glucose, glucuronic acid and xylose but no sulfate esters. Its anticoagulant activity was due to catalysis of thrombin inhibition by antithrombin but not by heparin cofactor II. Inhibition of Factor Xa by antithrombin was not catalyzed by the polysaccharide. The glucuronic acid residues were essential for the anticoagulant action of the mushroom polysaccharide since the activity disappeared after reduction of its carboxyl groups. In ex vivo tests using rats orally fed with the polysaccharide, we observed an inhibitory effect on platelet aggregation as observed with aspirin, a well-known antiplatelet agent. The polysaccharides from these mushrooms may constitute a new source of compounds with action on coagulation, platelet aggregation and, perhaps, on thrombosis.