The activation and function of surface-bound Hageman factor in human plasma are dependent upon both high molecular weight (HMW) kininogen and prekallikrein. HMW kininogen does not affect the binding of Hageman factor to surfaces, but it enhances the function of surface-bound Hageman factor as assessed by its ability to activate prekallikrein and Factor XI. The initial conversion of prekallikrein to kallikrein by the surface-bound Hageman factor in the presence of HMW kininogen is followed by a rapid enzymatic activation of Hageman factor by kallikrein. The latter interaction is also facilitated by HMW kininogen. Kallikrein therefore functions as an activator of Hageman factor by a positive feedback mechanism and generates most of the activated Hageman factor during brief exposure of plasma to activating surfaces. HMW kininogen is a cofactor in the enzymatic activation of Hageman factor by kallikrein and it also augments the function of the activated Hageman factor generated. The stoichiometry of the Hagman factor interaction with HMW kininogen suggests that it enhances the activity of the active site of Hageman factor. Since HMW kininogen and prekallikrein circulate as a complex, HMW kininogen may also place the prekallikrein in an optimal position for its reciprocal interaction with Hageman factor to proceed. The surface appears to play a passive role upon which bound Hageman factor and the prekallikrein-HMW kininogen complex can interact.