To determine the major physiologic inhibitors of activated protein C (APC), plasma was incubated with APC or with Protac C and subjected to immunoblotting. APC:inhibitor complexes gave two major bands reacting with antiprotein C antibodies when immunoblotted on nondenaturing gels, and additional minor bands that varied between serum and plasma. Formation of one of the two major bands of APC:inhibitor complex, but not the other, was stimulated by heparin and only this band reacted with antibodies to the previously described APC inhibitor that is here designated PCI-1. Plasma immunodepleted of PCI-1 formed complexes with APC as visualized with antiprotein C but not anti-PCI-1 antibodies, and exhibited heparin-independent inhibition of APC activity, providing evidence for the existence of a second major physiologic APC inhibitor, PCI-2. Formation of APC:PCI-2 complexes in PCI-1-depleted plasma paralleled inhibition of APC amidolytic activity. PCI-2 was separated from PCI-1 and partially purified using column chromatography. PCI-2 formed inactive complexes of approximately 110,000 molecular weight (mol wt) with APC suggesting PCI-2 has an approximate mol wt of 50,000. Thus, inhibition of APC in plasma involves two major distinct 50,000 mol wt inhibitors, the heparin-dependent PCI-1 and the heparin-independent PCI-2.