alpha(2)-Plasmin inhibitor (alpha(2)PI) is a recently characterized, fast-reacting plasmin inhibitor in human plasma that appears to play an important role in regulation of in vivo fibrinolysis. We report here a case of complete deficiency of alpha(2)PI in man. The patient, a 25-yr-old Japanese man, had a life-long severe bleeding tendency (hemarthrosis and excessive bleeding after trauma). The following tests were within normal limits: platelet count, bleeding time, thrombin time, prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time, titers of known clotting factors, platelet glass bead retention, Factor VIII-related antigen, platelet aggregation by ADP, collagen and ristocetin, and clot retraction. Routine liver function tests were also normal. The only abnormal finding was that whole blood clot lysis was extemely rapid and was complete in 4-8 h. The concentration of plasma protease inhibitors, including alpha(2)-macro-globulin, antithrombin III, alpha(1)-antitrypsin, and C1INH, were all normal. The concentration of alpha(2)-PI in the patient's plasma, assayed by immunological methods, was <0.1 mg/100 ml (normal concentration, 6.1+/-0.88 mg/100 ml [mean+/-SE]) and functional assays showed a complete deficiency of alpha(2)PI. Addition of purified alpha(2)PI to the patient's whole blood completely corrected the accelerated fibrinolysis. The patient's parents, four siblings, and four other members of this family were asymptomatic, but the titers of alpha(2)PI in their plasmas were congruent with50% of normal pooled plasma. There were three consanguineous marriages in this family, and the alpha(2)PI deficiency appears to have been inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. We speculate that alpha(2)PI deficiency in this patient has led to uninhibited in vivo fibrinolysis that probably causes the severe hemorrhagic tendency. Thus, this study indicates the important role of alpha(2)PI in hemostasis.