The plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) synthesized and released by cultured bovine aortic endothelial cells is present in conditioned medium in a latent form that can be activated by guanidine hydrochloride [Hekman, C. M., & Loskutoff, D. J. (1985) J. Biol. Chem. 260, 11581-11587]. The purified, guanidine-activated PAI-1 was shown to inhibit both plasmin and trypsin in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Second-order rate constants for these interactions were calculated to be 6.6 X 10(5) and 7.0 X 10(6) M-1 s-1 for plasmin and trypsin, respectively. Experiments were conducted to compare the inherently active and the guanidine-activated forms of PAI-1. The two active forms had similar kinetic parameters for interaction with urokinase (Kd, 0.3 pM; kassoc, 1.5 X 10(8) M-1 s-1) and were both inactivated upon treatment with acid or base and by incubation at 37 degrees C. The latent form was relatively stable when incubated under similar conditions. The decrease in PAI-1 activity upon incubation at 37 degrees C was partially restored by a second treatment with guanidine hydrochloride. However, the degree of recovery decreased as a function of incubation time at 37 degrees C. These data suggest that active and guanidine-activated PAI-1 represent a single form of PAI-1. Incubation of this form at 37 degrees C yields two distinct populations of inactive PAI-1, one capable of reactivation and another that appears to be irreversibly inactivated.