A poor anticoagulant response to activated protein C (APC) in an activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) assay (APC resistance) was recently reported to be a cause of familial thrombophilia. The response to APC was measured in 30 patients suffering from juvenile or recurrent stroke, in 40 patients suffering from venous thromboembolism and in 50 healthy subjects. The prevalence of APC resistance was found to be significantly higher among patients with stroke (20%, P < 0.003) and venous thrombosis (17.5%, P < 0.02) compared with the prevalence of APC resistance among normal controls (2%). In one case of venous thrombosis, the proposita's family (A) could be investigated and in five out of nine investigated members (56%) a poor or borderline response to APC was detected. The family (B) of another APC-resistant patient revealed six subjects with poor coagulation response to APC out of eight family members studied (75%). Measuring protein S activity with an automated calcium-thromboplastin-based protein S activity assay, a significant correlation (P < 0.0001) between the results of this functional protein S assay and APC resistance (represented by the ratio (Rs value) of clotting time with and without addition of activated protein C) was observed. Nine out of 14 patients (64%) with poor APC response showed protein S activities below the normal range. Assessment of protein S activity with a second protein S clotting assay using factor Va as substrate confirmed only 47% of the decreased levels of the thromboplastin-based protein S clotting assay. It is concluded that unless more data concerning the new APC cofactor become available, protein S clotting assays should be considered to be influenced by the new APC-resistance phenomenon and may not therefore be specific for protein S.