We examined assembly and expression of the factor X activating complex on human and rabbit alveolar macrophages. Kinetic parameters of the factor X activating reaction were determined by functional titrations of factors VII and X with macrophage tissue factor (TF) added. We found rapid activation of factor X to Xa on alveolar macrophage surfaces. Detection of rapid factor Xa formation on macrophages required addition of exogenous factors VII and X. At plasma concentrations of the purified factors, factor Xa was formed on freshly isolated macrophages at approximately 5.4 pmol/min/10(6) cells. After macrophage maturation in culture for 20 hours with LPS (endotoxin) added, the factor X activation rate was increased two- to sixfold. The km' (apparent km) of TF-factor VII enzymatic complexes assembled on alveolar macrophages for factor X were (258 +/- 55 and 475 +/- 264 nmol/L for human and rabbit cells, respectively). The km' did not change during macrophage maturation in culture, but V'max (apparent Vmax) was consistently increased. The K1/2 of human factor VII (concentrations giving half maximal rates of factor X activation) for the interaction with human and rabbit alveolar macrophage TF were 0.191 +/- 0.096 and 1.7 +/- 0.7 etamol/L, respectively. The K1/2 were not significantly changed after maturation, whereas rates of Xa formation at saturation with factor VII were increased. The fast rates of factor X activation observed at physiologic concentrations of plasma-derived factors VII and X indicate that TF on alveolar macrophages is likely to provide sites for binding of factor VII and activation of factor X in vivo during clotting reactions associated with alveolar edema and inflammation.