Purified plasma and urinary protein C inhibitors (PCI) formed heparin-dependent complexes with activated protein C (APC) which were detected by immunoblotting after nondenaturing gel electrophoresis. Bands representing APC.PCI complexes were also seen on immunoblots after incubation of plasma with APC and heparin. The same immunoblot pattern of complexes was detected by three different methods: method A, monoclonal antibody to plasminogen activator inhibitor-3 (PAI-3, urinary urokinase inhibitor) + 125I-labeled anti-mouse IgG; method B, polyclonal antibodies to PCI + 125I-labeled purified plasma PCI; and method C, monoclonal antibody to protein C + 125I-protein C. Plasma depleted of PAI-3 by immunoadsorption with insolubilized monoclonal antibody to PAI-3 showed no detectable antigen or complexes with APC as visualized by methods A or B. This PAI-3-depleted plasma had less than 10% of the heparin-dependent inhibitory activity of normal plasma toward APC. Purified plasma PCI was fully reactive in an enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay for PAI-3, and plasma and urinary PCI inhibited urokinase activity in a heparin-dependent manner. These data indicate that heparin-dependent plasma and urinary PCI and PAI-3 are immunologically and functionally very similar if not identical. This observation identifies a new interrelation between the protein C anticoagulant and the fibrinolytic systems. In addition, plasma contains a heparin-independent inhibitor of APC which is not immunologically related to plasma PCI or to PAI-3.