Plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1), a member of the serpin family of serine protease inhibitors, inhibits both tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) and urokinase type plasminogen activator (u-PA). High PAI-1 levels are associated with an increased risk of thromboembolic disease while PAI-1 deficiency may represent an inherited autosomal recessive bleeding disorder. This review describes the biochemistry of PAI-1 including its purification, conversion between active and latent forms, and interaction with its target serine proteases and its protein cofactor, vitronectin. In addition, an overview of animal studies with PAI-1 is presented to examine its role in regulating fibrinolysis in vivo. For this review, particular emphasis is placed on studies with a recombinant form of bacterially expressed PAI-1 (rPAI-1), which shares many features in common with the active form of native PAI-1.