A family with a high incidence of spontaneous thromboembolism over four generations has been investigated. The propositus is a 21-yr-old male with a history of thrombophlebitis. Medical histories of 46 family members were obtained. Twelve of these individuals have experienced deep venous thromboses and/or pulmonary emboli. Seven members of the kindred, with a prior history of thrombotic phenomena, were investigated in detail. These subjects were found to have normal plasma concentrations of immunoreactive antithrombin (mean 96%), decreased plasma levels of progressive antithrombin activity (mean 50%), and greatly reduced amounts of plasma heparin cofactor activity (mean 42%). The abnormal antithrombin (“Chicago”) was found to elute from heparin- Sepharose at a higher ionic strength than normal inhibitor. The functionally defective antithrombin molecules exhibit a reduced ability to neutralize thrombin in the presence or absence of heparin (approximately 10%-20% of normal). The molecular defect of this protease inhibitor thus appears to be distinct from those of previously described abnormal antithrombins.