To study the interrelationships of the major human coagulation pathways, factor X activation in normal and various deficient human plasmas was evaluated when clotting was triggered by dilute rabbit or human thromboplastin. Various dilutions of thromboplastin were added to plasma samples containing 3H-labeled factor X, and the time course of factor X activation was determined. At a 1/250 dilution of rabbit brain thromboplastin the rate of factor X activation in factor VIII or factor IX deficient plasma was only 10% of the activation rate seen for normal or factor XI deficient plasma. Reconstitution of the deficient plasmas with factors VIII or IX, respectively, restored normal factor X activation. Similar results were obtained when various dilutions of human thromboplastin replaced the rabbit thromboplastin. From these experiments, it is inferred that normal activation of factor X in plasma due to dilute thromboplastin requires factors VII, IX and VIII. An alternative extrinsic pathway that involves factors VII, IX, and VIII may be a major physiologic extrinsic pathway, and this pathway may help to explain the clinical observations of bleeding diatheses in patients deficient in factors IX or VIII.