A 5 µg/kg bolus of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) was infused into 11 healthy subjects followed by measurement of t-PA activity and antigen, PAI-1 activity and antigen, t-PA/PAI-1 complex, plasmin/antiplasmin (PAP) complex and D-dimer over 4 h. Infusion of t-PA resulted in a rise in PAP levels in all subjects from a baseline of 2.4 ± 1.1 nmol/l to a peak of 5.1 ± 2.3 nmol/l, but had no effect on plasminogen, antiplasmin or D-dimer levels. Using a kinetic model of plasminogen activation in vivo, the second-order rate constant for t-PA binding to plasminogen was estimated to be 3,100 ± 1,300 mol–1l·s–1, 200–500 times slower than t-PA accelerated by fibrin. The half-life of PAP was 4.5 ± 1.6 h. In healthy subjects, the PAP level in plasma represents the average rate of plasminogen activation over the last 2–8 h.

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