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The goal of anticoagulant therapy is to attenuate thrombosis without compromising hemostasis. Although the direct oral anticoagulants are associated with less intracranial hemorrhage than vitamin K antagonists, bleeding remains their major side effect. Factor XI has emerged as a promising target for anticoagulants that may be safer than those currently available. The focus on factor XI stems from epidemiological evidence of its role in thrombosis, the observation of attenuated thrombosis in factor XI–deficient mice, identification of novel activators, and the fact that factor XI deficiency is associated with only a mild bleeding diathesis. Proof-of-concept comes from the demonstration that compared with enoxaparin, factor XI knockdown reduces venous thromboembolism without increasing bleeding after elective knee arthroplasty. This article rationalizes the selection of factor XI as a target for new anticoagulants, reviews the agents under development, and outlines a potential path forward for their development.