This study investigates the role of the gamma-carboxyglutamic acid (gla) containing domain of activated protein C in interactions with both platelet-derived and purified type 1 plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1). The activity of human platelet PAI-1 was neutralized to the same extent by bovine activated protein C and bovine des-1-41-light chain-activated protein C. Both forms of activated protein C formed SDS-stable, divalent-cation independent complexes with platelet PAI-1, as demonstrated by immunoblotting using antibodies directed to either protein C or PAI-1. Since activated protein C neutralized PAI-1, the potential inhibition of the enzyme by PAI-1 was studied. Purified PAI-1 inhibited the amidolytic activity of bovine-activated protein C and bovine des-1-41-light chain-activated protein C with a k2 of 2.85 X 10(4) M-1 sec-1 for both proteins. These data suggest that the gla domain of activated protein C is not required for neutralization of PAI-1 activity, for complex formation with PAI-1, or for inhibition of the amidolytic activity of activated protein C by PAI-1.