A coagulation test abnormality, termed activated protein C (APC) resistance, involving poor anticoagulant response to APC is currently the most common laboratory finding among venous thrombophilic patients. Because the anticoagulant activity of APC involves inactivation of factors Va and VIIIa, studies were made to assess the presence of abnormal factors V or VIII. Diluted aliquots of plasma from two unrelated patients with APC resistance and thrombosis were added to either factor VIII-deficient or factor V-deficient plasma and APC resistance assays were performed. The results suggested that patients' factor V but not factor VIII rendered the substrate plasma APC resistant. When factor V that had been partially purified from normal or APC resistant patients' plasmas using immunoaffinity chromatography was added to factor V-deficient plasma, APC resistance assays showed that patients' factor V or factor Va, but not normal factor V, rendered the substrate plasma resistant to APC. Studies of the inactivation of each partially purified thrombin-activated factor Va by APC suggested that half of the patients' factor Va was resistant to APC. These results support the hypothesis that the APC resistance of some venous thrombophilic plasmas is caused by abnormal factor Va.