A direct rate assay for plasminogen activator has been developed using a synthetic fluorogenic peptide substrate, 7-(N-Cbz-glycylglycylargininamido)-4-methylcoumarin trifluoroacetate. The assay correlates well with the standard 125I-labeled fibrin plate assay using highly purified urokinase, culture fluids from WI-38, Chinese hamster vary or HeLa cells, or Rous sarcoma virus-transformed chick fibroblasts as the source of plasminogen activator. The assay is sensitive, rapid, and linear throughout a wide range of enzyme concentrations. With this substrate it is possible to determine inhibitor profiles for the various plasminogen activators, independently of the interfering potential of plasmin. All of the enzymes tested are inhibited by leupeptin and antipain but not by the related aldehydes, elastatinal and chymostatin. The macromolecular inhibitors soybean trypsin inhibitor and trasylol have little or no effect on the plasminogen activators tested. This substrate should be useful for the study of the effect of various agents on functional changes in cells secreting this enzyme and also should allow kinetic measurements of potential inhibitors.