alpha2-antiplasmin (alpha2-AP) is the main physiologic plasmin inhibitor in mammalian plasma. Inactivation of the murine alpha2-AP gene was achieved by replacing, through homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells, a 7-kb genomic sequence encoding the entire murine protein (exon 2 through part of exon 10, including the stop codon) with the neomycin resistance expression cassette. Germline transmission of the mutated allele was confirmed by Southern blot analysis. Mendelian inheritance of the inactivated alpha2-AP allele was observed, and homozygous deficient (alpha2-AP-/-) mice displayed normal fertility, viability, and development. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction confirmed the absence of alpha2-AP mRNA in kidney and liver from alpha2-AP-/- mice, in contrast to wild-type (alpha2-AP+/+) mice. Immunologic and functional alpha2-AP levels were undetectable in plasma of alpha2-AP-/- mice, and were about half of wild-type in heterozygous littermates (alpha2-AP+/-). Other hemostasis parameters, including plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, plasminogen, fibrinogen, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and blood cell counts were comparable for alpha2-AP+/+, alpha2-AP+/-, and alpha2-AP-/- mice. After amputation of tail or toe tips, bleeding stopped spontaneously in alpha2-AP+/+, as well as in alpha2-AP+/- and alpha2-AP-/- mice. Spontaneous lysis after 4 hours of intravenously injected 125I-fibrin-labeled plasma clots was significantly higher in alpha2-AP-/- than in alpha2-AP+/+ mice when injecting clots prepared from alpha2-AP+/+ plasma (78% +/- 5% v 46% +/- 9%; mean +/- SEM, n = 6 to 7; P =.02) or from alpha2-AP-/- plasma (81% +/- 5% v 46% +/- 5%; mean +/- SEM, n = 5; P =.008). Four to 8 hours after endotoxin injection, fibrin deposition in the kidneys was significantly reduced in alpha2-AP-/- mice, as compared with alpha2-AP+/+ mice (P </=.005). Thus, alpha2-AP-/- mice develop and reproduce normally; they have an enhanced endogenous fibrinolytic capacity without overt bleeding.