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The concentrations of 23 plasma proteins were measured by radial immunodiffusion in the plasma and ascites of 17 patients with cirrhosis and four patients with intraperitoneal malignancies, to learn whether there is a selectivity in the movement of proteins from plasma into ascites, analogous to that of proteinuria. Additionally, since some of the proteins are involved in coagulation, we hoped to clarify the coagulopathy frequently seen following peritoneovenous shunting of ascites. Analysis was by groups: group 1 consisted of nine patients with cirrhosis with an ascites-total protein content less than 2.5 g/dl; group 2 consisted of eight patients with cirrhosis with ascites-total protein content greater than or equal to 2.5 g/dl; and group 3 consisted of four patients with malignant ascites. The ratio of the plasma concentration/ascites concentration ([P]/[A]) for each protein was calculated for each patient. In each group the median [P]/[A] for each protein was plotted against the natural logarithm of its molecular weight (In MW). For 21 of the 23 proteins, [P]/[A] showed a close linear relationship to In MW. Fibrogen and plasminogen showed significant (p < 0.0002) elevation above the regression line relating [P]/[A] to In MW. This indicates depletion of fibrinogen and plasminogen in ascites. The ascites in group 1 showed moderate selectivity, defined as the slope of the regression line (1.59), while groups 2 and 3 were essentialy nonselective (0.35 and 0.50). Fibrin-split products were elevated in all ascites but not in plasma, indicating either fibrinolysis or fibrinogenolysis within the ascites. A normal ratio for prothrombin suggests fibrinogenolysis may be the dominant mechanism. Thus the coagulopathy induced by LeVeen valve insertion may be in part secondary to the infusion of plasmin or a plasminogen activator into the circulation.