In the setting of acute myocardial infarction, decreases in early/late mortality, reocclusion after thrombolysis, and restenosis rate after percutaneous intervention are lower in smokers – this phenomenon has been designated as the ‘smoker's paradox’. These benefits of smoking, however, are abrogated by stent placement. We hypothesized that fibrinolytic vulnerability would change in response to smoking, and that inhaled carbon monoxide may play a role. Smoking patients (n = 20, two cigarettes consumed within 90 min, average carboxyhemoglobin concentration of 5%) had plasma collected and normal individual (n = 20) plasma was also obtained. Thrombelastographic analyses conducted with addition of tissue-type plasminogen activator revealed that with the exception of the rate of thrombus generation, there was little difference in fibrinolytic kinetics between normal and smoking individuals. Addition of exogenous carbon monoxide resulted in diminished fibrinolytic response to the same extent in both groups. Subanalyses demonstrated that the smoking cohort had both hyperfibrinolytic and hypofibrinolytic patients as defined by confidence interval (5–95%) values generated from normal individuals. Addition of carbon monoxide reduced hyperfibrinolytic parameter values by 80% in smokers, whereas only a 17% decrease in hypofibrinolytic values changed. Our investigation suggests that ‘smoker's paradox’ involves a marked change in the character of the plasmin–antiplasmin–carbon monoxide interaction. Further investigation will be required to further define the molecular mechanism responsible for the ‘smoker's paradox’.