The upstream coagulation enzymes are homologous trypsin-like serine proteases that typically function in enzyme-cofactor complexes, exemplified by coagulation factor VIIa (VIIa), which is allosterically activated upon binding to its cell surface receptor tissue factor (TF). TF cooperates with VIIa to create a bimolecular recognition surface that serves as an exosite for factor X binding. This study analyzes to what extent scissile bond docking to the catalytic cleft contributes to macromolecular substrate affinity. Mutation of the P1 Arg residue in factor X to Gln prevented activation by the TF.VIIa complex but did not reduce macromolecular substrate affinity for TF.VIIa. Similarly, mutations of the S and S' subsites in the catalytic cleft of the enzyme VIIa failed to reduce affinity for factor X, although the affinity for small chromogenic substrates and the efficiency of factor X scissile bond cleavage were reduced. Thus, docking of the activation peptide bond to the catalytic cleft of this enzyme-cofactor complex does not significantly contribute to affinity for macromolecular substrate. Rather, it appears that the creation of an extended macromolecular substrate recognition surface involving enzyme and cofactor is utilized to generate substrate specificity between the highly homologous, regulatory proteases of the coagulation cascade.