Prothrombin is proteolytically activated by the prothrombinase complex comprising the serine protease Factor (F) Xa complexed with its cofactor, FVa. Based on inhibition of the prothrombinase complex by synthetic peptides, FVa residues 493-506 were proposed as a FXa binding site. FVa is homologous to FVIIIa, the cofactor for the FIXa protease, in the FX-activating complex, and FVIIIa residues 555-561 (homologous to FVa residues 499-506) are recognized as a FIXa binding sequence. To test the hypothesis that FVa residues 499-505 contribute to FXa binding, we created the FVa loop swap mutant (designated 499-505(VIII) FV) with residues 499-505 replaced by residues 555-561 of FVIIIa, which differ at five of seven positions. Based on kinetic measurements and spectroscopic titrations, this FVa loop swap mutant had significantly reduced affinity for FXa. The fully formed prothrombinase complex containing this FVa mutant had fairly normal kinetic parameters (k(cat) and K(m)) for cleavage of prothrombin at Arg-320. However, small changes in both Arg-320 and Arg-271 cleavage rates result together in a moderate change in the pathway of prothrombin activation. Although residues 499-505 directly precede the Arg-506 cleavage site for activated protein C (APC), the 499-505(VIII) FVa mutant was inactivated entirely normally by APC. These results suggest that this A2 domain sequence of the FVa and FVIIIa cofactors evolved to have different specificity for binding FXa and FIXa while retaining compatibility as substrate for APC. In an updated three-dimensional model for the FVa structure, residues 499-505, along with Arg-506, Arg-306, and other previously suggested FXa binding sequences, delineate a continuous surface on the A2 domain that is strongly implicated as an extended FXa binding surface in the prothrombinase complex.