The monocyte is the only normal circulating cell type capable of initiating blood coagulation through the expression of tissue factor. Recently isolated peripheral blood monocytes that contain no demonstrable tissue factor activity can be induced to express tissue factor activity by a number of stimulatory agents. Monocyte-associated tissue factor activity transiently increases in response to adherence to tissue culture plates and, consistent with other reports, markedly increases after the isolated monocytes are treated with endotoxin. Phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) induced an increase in tissue factor activity at low doses (10(-11) to 10(-12) mol/L). Conversely, concentrations of PMA that stimulate release of oxygen metabolites or that cause the cytosol-to-membrane translocation of protein kinase C (PKC) (10(-9) to 10(-7) mol/L) resulted in a rapid decrease in both adherence-induced and endotoxin-induced monocyte tissue factor activity. The effects of PMA on monocytes were time- and dose-dependent with respect to PKC translocation, release of oxygen metabolites, and changes in tissue factor activity. Immunofluorescent staining of monocytes with monoclonal antibody (MoAb) HTF1-7B8, directed against human tissue factor, revealed that tissue factor antigen was induced concurrently with tissue factor activity by adherence and endotoxin and that tissue factor antigen decreased after PMA stimulation.