Secretion of plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) by cultures of human umbilical vein endothelial cells and human hepatocellular cell line Hep G2 was evaluated after insulin stimulation. The secretion of PAI-1 antigen and activity was measured in the conditioned medium and the cellular extracts after incubation of confluent cultures with 1% serum medium for 24 hours. Insulin induced a dose dependent increase of the PAI-1 secretion by Hep G2 cell line. At 10(-8) M a two fold increase of PAI-1 antigen and activity were observed whereas alpha 2 antiplasmin and fibrinogen were not significantly modified. No effect of insulin was observed on PAI-1 antigen and PAI activity production by human endothelial cells whereas endotoxin resulted in a two fold increase in PAI-1 secretion. In recent clinical studies we have demonstrated that the level of plasma insulin correlated with that of PAI-1. Thus we hypothesize that hepatocytes represent a physiological source of plasma PAI-1 which is modulated by plasma insulin level.