One hundred and one patients with osteoarthritis were randomly allocated to undergo total hip arthroplasty under either spinal (subarachnoid) or general anaesthesia. Venous blood was sampled before, during and after surgery and on the 5th day after operation to study the haemostatic mechanism. There were no preoperative differences between the two anaesthetic groups. Although there was pronounced individual variability, similar patterns of change in coagulation, platelets and fibrinolysis were seen in both groups. However, there were significant differences between the two groups in platelet count, thrombin production, and Factor VIIIRAg in the intra- and immediate postoperative periods. Also, compared with general anaesthesia, there was less intraoperative activation of fibrinolysis, as measured by the euglobulin clot lysis time, with spinal anaesthesia. These differences suggest slight modification of the haemostatic response to surgery with spinal anaesthesia, which could be consistent with a neuroendocrine mechanism. By the 5th day both groups exhibited a very similar "hypercoagulable" postoperative state.