BACKGROUND: Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) regulates fibrinolysis and has been reported to be an independent risk factor for ischemic cardiovascular events. This study describes the age-dependent development of spontaneous coronary arterial thrombi that are associated with evidence of subendocardial myocardial infarction in mice transgenic for human PAI-1. METHODS AND RESULTS: We generated two independent transgenic mice founder lines that express a stable variant of active human PAI-1 under control of the murine preproendothelin-1 (mPPET-1) promoter. Backcrossed homozygous transgenic animals from founder line I had plasma PAI-1 levels of 23+/-12 ng/mL. PAI-1 transgenic animals younger than 4 months do not exhibit any evidence of arterial or venous thrombosis. Ninety percent of transgenic animals (n=10) older than 6 months developed spontaneous occlusions of typically multiple, penetrating coronary arteries, with histological evidence of subendocardial infarction identified in 50% of animals. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that chronically elevated levels of PAI-1 are associated with age-dependent coronary arterial thrombosis in mice transgenic for human PAI-1. This is the first study of a murine model of coronary thrombosis that occurs in the absence of severe hypercholesterolemia or multiple genetic manipulations. These findings provide new evidence to support the hypothesis that PAI-1 excess contributes to the development of coronary arterial thrombosis.