Rabbit prekallikrein (RPK) was purified from rabbit plasma by ion exchange and lectin column chromatography and preparative polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. A 1500-fold purification was routinely achieved with a final yield of 5-10%. The purified RPK was found to be a glycoprotein with an apparent molecular weight of 88,000. Activation of RPK with either trypsin or rabbit Hageman factor (active) occurs by limited proteolytic cleavage, producing two disulfide-linked polypeptide chains with molecular weights of 55,000 and 35,000. Both chains contain carbohyrate and the 35,000-molecular-weight polypeptide was shown to incorporate [3H]DFP. Activation of RPK in kaolin-treated plasma was shown to proceed by an analogous mechanism yielding 55,000- and 35,000-molecular-weight polypeptide chains.