Fitzgerald factor (high molecular weight kininogen) is an agent in normal human plasma that corrects the impaired in vitro surface- mediated plasma reactions of blood coagulation, fibrinolysis, and kinin generation observed in Fitzgerald trait plasma. To assess the possible pathophysiologic role of Fitzgerald factor, its titer was measured by a functional clot-promoting assay. Mean +/- SD in 42 normal adults was 0.99+/-0.25 units/ml, one unit being the activity in 1 ml of normal pooled plasma. No difference in titer was noted between normal men and women, during pregnancy, or after physical exercise. Fitzgerald factor activity was significantly reduced in the plasmas of eight patients with advanced hepatic cirrhosis (0.40+/-0.09 units/ml) and of ten patients with disseminated intravascular coagulation (0.60+/-0.30 units/ml), but was normal in plasmas of patients with other congenital clotting factor deficiencies, nephrotic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or sarcoidosis, or under treatment with warfarin. The plasmas of 21 mammalian species tested appeared to contain Fitzgerald factor activity, but those of two avian, two repitilian, and one amphibian species did not correct the coagulant defect in Fitzgerald trait plasmas.