The direct cytoprotective activities of activated protein C (APC) on cells convey therapeutic, relevant, beneficial effects in injury and disease models in vivo and require the endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) and protease activated receptor 1 (PAR1). Thrombin also activates PAR1, but its effects on cells contrast APC's cytoprotective effects. To gain insights into mechanisms for these contrasting cellular effects, protease activated receptor 3 (PAR3) activation by APC and thrombin was studied. APC cleaved PAR3 on transfected and endothelial cells in the presence of EPCR. Remarkably, APC cleaved a synthetic PAR3 N-terminal peptide at Arg41, whereas thrombin cleaved at Lys38. On cells, APC failed to cleave R41Q-PAR3, whereas K38Q-PAR3 was still cleaved by APC but not by thrombin. PAR3 tethered-ligand peptides beginning at amino acid 42, but not those beginning at amino acid 39, conveyed endothelial barrier-protective effects. In vivo, the APC-derived PAR3 tethered-ligand peptide, but not the thrombin-derived PAR3 peptide, blunted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced vascular permeability. These data indicate that PAR3 cleavage by APC at Arg41 can initiate distinctive APC-like cytoprotective effects. These novel insights help explain the differentiation of APC's cytoprotective versus thrombin's proinflammatory effects on cells and suggest a unique contributory role for PAR3 in the complex mechanisms underlying APC cytoprotective effects.