Thrombolysis with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) has been a disappointment and has now been replaced by an endovascular procedure whenever possible. Nevertheless, thrombolysis remains the only means by which circulation in a thrombosed artery can be restored rapidly. In contrast to tPA monotherapy, endogenous fibrinolysis uses both tPA and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), whose native form is a proenzyme, prouPA. This combination is remarkably effective as evidenced by the fibrin degradation product, d -dimer, which is invariably present in plasma. The two activators have complementary mechanisms of plasminogen activation and are synergistic in combination. Since tPA initiates fibrinolysis when released from the vessel wall and prouPA is in the blood, they induce fibrinolysis... sequentially. It was postulated that this may be more effective and fibrin-specific. The hypothesis was tested in a model of clot lysis in plasma in which a clot was first exposed to tPA for 5 min, washed and incubated with prouPA. Lysis was compared with that of clots incubated with both activators simultaneously. The sequential combination was almost twice as effective and caused less fibrinogenolysis than the simultaneous combination (p < 0.0001) despite having significantly less tPA, as a result of the wash. A mechanism is described by which this phenomenon can be explained. The findings are believed to have significant therapeutic implications.