Edoxaban is an oral direct factor Xa inhibitor that is currently undergoing investigation in phase III clinical trials for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and for the prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolic events (VTE). Factor Xa is an attractive target for anticoagulant treatment, as it is the primary and rate-limiting source of amplification in the coagulation cascade. Edoxaban is a competitive inhibitor of factor Xa and has >10 000-fold greater selectivity for factor Xa relative to thrombin. In phase I clinical trials, the anticoagulant effects of edoxaban included dose-dependent increases in activated partial thromboplastin time and prothrombin time following single edoxaban doses of 10-150 mg and after multiple ascending doses (60 mg twice daily, 90 mg daily and 120 mg daily). The anticoagulant effects of edoxaban were rapid in onset (time to peak plasma concentration 1-2 hours) and sustained for up to 24 hours. Prolongation of bleeding time in 8% of subjects was >9.5 minutes (none of which appeared to be clinically significant) 2 hours after initial dosing, and was independent of edoxaban dose, formulation or dietary state. In general, plasma edoxaban concentrations were linearly correlated with coagulation parameters. Phase II clinical trials in patients with AF and VTE suggest that the edoxaban 30 mg once-daily and 60 mg once-daily regimens had a similar or better safety profile compared with dose-adjusted warfarin (international normalized ratio 2.0-3.0) in terms of bleeding events, and that edoxaban was not associated with hepatotoxicity. In addition, edoxaban was associated with statistically significant dose-dependent reductions in VTE after orthopaedic surgery compared with placebo or dalteparin sodium. Further clinical investigation of the efficacy and safety of once-daily edoxaban is being conducted in phase III clinical trials in comparison with warfarin in patients with AF in the phase III ENGAGE AF-TIMI 48 trial (NCT00781391), and in comparison with low-molecular weight heparin/warfarin in the prevention of recurrent VTE in patients with symptomatic deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism in the HOKUSAI VTE trial (NCT00986154).