We have investigated the effects of purified IgG fractions from plasma containing the lupus anticoagulant (LAC) and/or IgG anticardiolipin antibody (ACA) on the degradation of factor Va by an activated protein C-protein S complex. Plasma samples from 10 patients were studied. LAC was detected by a Russell's Viper venom technique. ACA was determined by ELISA. IgG fractions were obtained from each plasma sample by protein A-Sepharose fractionation. This fraction was shown to exhibit ACA/LAC activity. Using purified activated protein C (APC), protein S and phosphatidylserine/phosphatidylcholine, factor Va degradation was assessed in the presence and absence of IgG fractions from LAC/ACA containing plasmas. After 2 min incubation the mean factor Va degradation by APC and protein S in the presence of IgG LAC/ACA fractions was 14% compared with 52% with normal IgG. A similar effect was seen when phospholipid was substituted by washed freeze-thawed platelets. Experiments employing varying concentrations of protein S and phospholipid revealed marked differences in respect of the inhibitory specificity of the different antiphospholipid antibodies. These results indicate that antiphospholipid antibodies have an inhibitory effect on the activated protein C/protein S complex and provide some explanation for a relationship between antiphospholipid antibodies and thrombosis.