To identify amino acid sequences in factor Xa (fXa) and prothrombin (fII) that may be involved in prothrombinase complex (fXa.factor Va.fII.phospholipids) assembly, synthetic peptides based on fXa and fII sequences were prepared and screened for their ability to inhibit fXa-induced clotting of normal plasma. One fII peptide (PT557-571 homologous to chymotrypsin (CHT) residues 225-239) and two fXa peptides (X404-418, CHT231-244, and X415-429, CHT241-252C) potently inhibited plasma clotting and prothrombinase activity with 50% inhibition between 41 and 115 microM peptide. Inhibition of prothrombinase by PT557-571 and X415-429 was fVa-independent, whereas the inhibition by X404-418 was fVa-dependent. X404-418 inhibited the binding of fVa to fluorescein-labeled, inhibited fXai in the presence of phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylserine vesicles, whereas X415-429 inhibited binding of fII to phospholipid-bound fluorescein-labeled, inhibited fXai. PT557-571 altered the fluorescence emission of fluorescein-labeled fXai, showing that PT557-571 binds to fXai. These data suggest that residues 404-418 in fXa provide fVa binding sites, whereas residues 557-571 in fII and 415-429 in fXa mediate interactions between fXa and fII in the prothrombinase complex.