Increased levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) are a well-known risk for cardiovascular diseases. ii significant number of investigations are aimed at lowering plasma levels of PAI-1 to enhance endogenous fibrinolysis. We have recently generated monoclonal antibodies that neutralize PAI-1 activity by switching the inhibitory conformation to a substrate conformation. However, intact murine antibodies have quite some disadvantages for therapeutic use in man. In the current study, we describe the construction of a smaller antibody fragment derived from a monoclonal antibody (MA-8H9D4) with PAI-1 neutralizing properties. The cDNAs encoding the variable domains of the heavy and light chain were amplified, linked and cloned into a phagemid vector. Resulting clones were expressed as a single-chain variable fragment (scFv, V-H-(Gly(4)Ser)(3)-V-L) on the surface of a phage and selected for binding to PAI-1. Subsequently, a positive phage was used for the production of soluble scFv-8H9D4. Following purification, the characteristics of the scFv-8H9D4 were compared to those of the original MA-8H9D4. The scFv inhibited PAI-1 activity to a similar extent as MA-8H9D4 and by a similar mechanism, i.e., induction of a conformational switch. Thus, this smaller antibody fragment, exhibiting the same properties as the parent molecule may constitute a useful starting point for the design of PAI-1 neutralizing therapeutics. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.