The catabolism of streptokinase (SK) and polyethylene glycol derivatives of SK (PEG-SK) were studied in mice. The clearance and catabolism of SK:plasmin (SK:Pm) and PEG-SK:Pm activator complexes were also investigated. Native 125I-SK cleared rapidly (t1/2 = 15 minutes) from the circulation, with the majority of the ligand accumulating in the liver and gastrointestinal (GI) tract and a substantial fraction also localizing in the kidneys. SK, which was removed from the plasma by the liver, was secreted into bile and then the GI tract. Sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) demonstrated that 125I-SK recovered from liver and bile was homogeneous and of the same molecular weight (mol wt approximately 50,200) as native SK. PEG-125I-SK cleared slowly (t1/2 greater than 200 minutes), with more than 80% of the preparation localizing in liver and GI tract. The PEG-125I-SK secreted into the bile was also intact. The bile containing 125I-SK was incubated with stoichiometric amounts of plasminogen and electrophoresed under nondenaturing conditions. This study demonstrated that the secreted SK was able to form SK:Pg complexes. SDS-PAGE also showed activation of 125I-Pg that was incubated with recovered bile containing the SK. 125I-SK:Pm catabolism was also studied. In these experiments, the mol wt approximately 42,000 fragment obtained when SK is cleaved by plasmin was found in the bile. This fragment of 125I-SK was not recovered as part of a complex with plasmin, consistent with our previous observations that catabolism of SK:Pm involves transfer of the plasmin to plasma proteinase inhibitors while SK is catabolized independently. By contrast, when PEG-125I-SK:Pm was injected into mice, only intact PEG-125I-SK was found in the bile, consistent with our previous observations that the PEG derivatization blocks its degradation by plasmin.