Factor IX Hilo is a variant factor IX molecule that has no detectable coagulant activity. The defect in factor IX Hilo arises from a point mutation in the gene such that in the protein Arg180 is converted to a Gln. Activation of factor IX Hilo by factor Xla was monitored using the fluorescent active site probe p-aminobenzamidine. Normal factor IX showed complete activation in one hour as determined by measuring the increase in fluorescence when p-aminobenzamidine bound to activated factor IX. Factor IX Hilo showed no increase in fluorescence even after 24 hours, indicating that the active site was not exposed. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis showed that factor IX Hilo was cleaved to a light chain plus a larger peptide with a molecular weight equivalent to a heavy chain covalently linked to an activation peptide. Amino terminal amino acid sequencing of factor IX Hilo cleaved by factor Xla showed cleavage only at Arg145-Ala146, indicating that the Gln180-Val181 bond was not cleaved and that the active site was thus not exposed. The presence of factor IX Hilo in patient plasma was responsible for the patient having a very long ox brain prothrombin time characteristic of severe hemophilia Bm. Patient plasma had an ox brain prothrombin time of 100 seconds using a Thrombotest kit, significantly prolonged over the normal control value of 45 seconds. When factor IX Hilo was depleted from patient plasma using an immunoaffinity column, the ox brain prothrombin time decreased to 41 seconds. When factor IX Hilo was added back to depleted patient plasma, to normal plasma depleted of factor IX by the same affinity column, or to plasma from a CRM- hemophilia B patient, the ox brain prothrombin time was significantly prolonged. We conclude that the Arg180 to Gln mutation in factor IX Hilo results in a molecule that cannot be activated by factor Xla. Further, our data suggest that the mutation results in a molecule that interacts with components of the extrinsic pathway to give a prolonged ox brain prothrombin time.