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Tissue factor (TF)-initiated coagulation plays a significant role in the pathophysiology of many diseases, including cancer and inflammation. Tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) is a plasma Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor, which modulates initiations of coagulation induced by TF. In a factor (F) Xa-dependent feedback system, TFPI binds directly and inhibits the TF–FVII/FVIIa complex. Normally, TFPI exists in plasma both as a full-length molecule and as variably carboxy-terminal truncated forms. TFPI also circulates in complex with plasma lipoproteins. The levels and the dual inhibitor effect of TFPI on FXa and TF–FVII/FVIIa complex offers insight into the mechanisms of various pathological conditions triggered by TF. The use of selective pharmacological inhibitors has become an indispensable tool in experimental haemostasis and thrombosis research.In vivoadministration of recombinant TFPI (rTFPI) in an experimental animal model prevents thrombosis (and re-thrombosis after thrombolysis), reduces mortality fromE. coli-induced-septic shock, prevents fibrin deposition on subendothelial human matrix and protects against disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Thus, TFPI may play an important role in modulating TF-induced thrombogenesis and it may also provide a unique therapeutic approach for prophylaxis and/or treatment of various diseases. In this review, we consider structural and biochemical aspects of the TFPI molecule and detail its inhibitory mechanisms and therapeutic implications in various disease conditions. Copyright © 2005 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.