The effect of fibrin polymers on thrombin-catalyzed factor XIIIa formation was studied in afibrinogenemic plasma. Fibrin polymers derived from des A fibrinogen and des A,B fibrinogen increased sixfold the rate of thrombin-catalyzed factor XIIIa formation in the presence of EDTA. Calcium chloride accelerated factor XIIIa formation 14-fold in the presence of des A,B fibrinogen without increasing the rate of thrombin formation. Fibrinopeptides A and B had no effect on factor XIIIa formation in afibrinogenemic plasma. Des A,B fibrinogen reduced by 20- to 40-fold the thrombin concentration required to activate factor XIII. Glycyl-L-prolyl-L-arginyl-L-proline (gly-pro-arg-pro), a fibrin polymerization inhibitor, inhibited des A and des A,B fibrinogen from enhancing thrombin-catalyzed factor XIIIa formation. Gly-pro-arg- pro did not modify factor XIIIa formation in afibrinogenemic plasma and did not inhibit thrombin cleavage of the chromogenic substrate S-2238. These results demonstrate that fibrin polymers accelerate thrombin- catalyzed plasma factor XIIIa formation.