A 72-yr-old male with a lifelong history of easy bruisability and posttraumatic bleeding had a prolonged prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time. His plasma Stypven, Taipan, and Echis carinatus venom clotting times were prolonged. The presence of a dysprothrombin was confirmed by the discrepancy between plasma prothrombin coagulant activity and prothrombin antigen levels. His plasma prothrombin was capable of being completely absorbed onto and then eluted from barium sulfate. Crossed immunoelectrophoresis of his plasma prothrombin, and normal plasma prothrombin, into agarose containing rabbit anti-human factor II antibody were similar. Crossed immunoelectrofocusing, a procedure combining isoelectric focusing in disc gels with electroimmunoassay in the second dimension, demonstrated that the patient's prothrombin antigen was more basic than normal. The eluate from barium sulfate absorbtion of patient plasma, when reacted with Echis carinatus venom (which directly cleaves prothrombin to thrombin) clotted purified fibrinogen at a rate slower than normal plasma eluate. SDS-slab gel electrophoresis revealed that the prothrombin present in the patient's eluate was cleaved by Echis carinatus venom. These studies suggest that the coagulopathy of prothrombin Houston results from the generation of a dysfunctional thrombin.