A computer-based statistical evaluation of the optimal alignments of the kringle domains of human plasminogen, human prothrombin, human tissue plasminogen activator, human urokinase, and human coagulation Factor XIIa, as well as the putative kringle of human haptoglobin, has been performed. A variety of different alignments has been examined and scores calculated in terms of the number of standard deviations (SD) of a given match from randomness. With the exception of human haptoglobin, it was found that very high alignment scores (8.9-23.0 SD from randomness) were obtained between each of the kringles, with the kringle 1 and kringle 5 regions of human plasminogen displaying the highest similarity, and the S kringle of human prothrombin and the human Factor XII kringle showing the least similarity. The relationships obtained were employed to construct an evolutionary tree for the kringles. The predicted alignments have also allowed nucleotide mutations in these regions to be evaluated more accurately. For those regions for which nucleotide sequences are known, we have employed the maximal alignments from the protein sequences to assess nucleotide sequence similarities. It was found that a range of approximately 40-55% of the nucleotide bases were placed at identical positions in the kringles, with the highest number found in the alignment of the two kringles of human tissue plasminogen activator and the lowest number in the alignment of the S kringle of prothrombin with the second kringle of tissue plasminogen activator. From both protein and nucleotide alignments, we conclude that haptoglobin is not statistically homologous to any other kringle. Secondary structural comparisons of the kringle regions have been predicted by a combination of the Burgess and Chou-Fasman methods. In general, the kringles display a very high number of beta-turns, and very low alpha-helical contents. From analysis of the predicted structures in relationship to the functional properties of these domains, it appears as though many of their functional differences can be related to possible conformational alterations resulting from amino acid substitutions in the kringles.