Acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) is a disease that is distinguished from other leukaemias by the high potential for early haemorrhagic death. Several processes are involved, such as disseminated intravascular coagulation and hyperfibrinolysis. Recently, TAFI (thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor) was identified as a link between coagulation and fibrinolysis. TAFI can be activated by thrombin, and in its activated form potently attenuates fibrinolysis by removing C-terminal lysine and arginine residues that are important for the binding and activation of plasminogen. Activation of TAFI by the coagulation system results in a down-regulation of fibrinolytic activity and, thereby, prevents a rapid dissolution of the fibrin clot. To establish whether TAFI was involved in the severity of the bleeding complications in APL, the TAFI antigen and activity levels were determined in a group of 15 patients. The TAFI antigen concentration was normal, but the activity of TAFI was severely reduced in APL by approximately 60%. The reduction of TAFI activity was most probably caused by the action of plasmin on TAFI because in vitro experiments revealed that plasmin slightly reduced antigen levels but severely reduced TAFI activity. The acquired functional TAFI deficiency in APL may contribute to the severity of the haemorrhagic diathesis because of the impaired capacity of the coagulation system to protect the fibrin clot from fibrinolysis.