During normal pregnancy, the concentrations of many of the clotting factors rise, thereby increasing the potential to generate fibrin. There is also evidence of increased thrombin activity during normal pregnancy which sharply increases during placental separation. Antithrombin III, the main inhibitor of thrombin and activated factor X, shows no compensatory rise during pregnancy but increases during the puerperium. Plasminogen and antiplasmin concentrations rise during pregnancy but systemic fibrinolytic activity, as measured by the euglobulin lysis time, is markedly depressed during pregnancy; the reduced fibrinolytic activity returns to non-pregnant values very soon after delivery. The loss of fibrinolytic activity is presumed to be loss of plasminogen activator, because when this is added in excess in the urokinase sensitivity test, the fibrinolytic response is normal. The capacity for localized fibrinolytic activity is not lost, however, because fibrinolytic degradation products are slightly raised during pregnancy. The overall pattern is one of increased coagulant and reduced fibrinolytic capacity during pregnancy which may protect the pregnant woman against the haemostatic challenge of placental separation.