In this study we report a kinetic model for the alpha-thrombin-catalyzed production of fibrin I and fibrin II at pH 7.4, 37 degrees C, gamma/2 0.17. The fibrin is produced by the action of human alpha-thrombin on plasma levels of human fibrinogen in the presence of the major inhibitor of alpha-thrombin in plasma, antithrombin III (AT). This model quantitatively accounts for the time dependence of alpha-thrombin-catalyzed release of fibrinopeptides A and B concurrent with the inactivation of alpha-thrombin by AT and delineates the concerted interactions of alpha-thrombin, fibrin(ogen), and AT during the production of a fibrin clot. The model also provides a method for estimating the concentration of alpha-thrombin required to produce a clot of known composition and predicts a direct relationship between the plasma concentration of fibrinogen and the amount of fibrin produced by a bolus of alpha-thrombin. The predicted relationship between the concentration of fibrinogen and the amount of fibrin produced in plasma provides a plausible explanation for the observed linkage between plasma concentrations of fibrinogen and the risk for ischemic heart disease.