Despite their widespread use in patients with acute myocardial infarction, all currently available thrombolytic agents suffer from a number of significant limitations, including resistance to reperfusion, the occurrence of acute coronary reocclusion, and bleeding complications. Several lines of research towards improvement of thrombolytic therapy are being explored, including strategies to enhance the fibrinolytic potency of plasminogen activators and to improve conjunctive antiplatelet or antithrombotic agents. Mutants and variants of plasminogen activators, chimeric plasminogen activators, and conjugates of plasminogen activators with monoclonal antibodies have been constructed, and plasminogen activators from animal or bacterial origin have been evaluated. Some of these new thrombolytic agents have shown promise in animal models of venous or arterial thrombosis and in pilot studies in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Such molecules include mutants of tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) with prolonged half-life and/or resistance to protease inhibitors and staphylokinase. Antiplatelet strategies include the use of platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor blocking agents, of thromboxane synthase inhibitors and endoperoxide receptor antagonists. Antithrombotic strategies include the use of selective inhibitors of thrombin, tissue factor or factor Xa. The efficiency and safety of these new agents in man will have to be carefully evaluated.