Plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) is a physiologic modulator of the fibrinolytic system. Its activity in plasma increases in diverse thrombotic states. The large synthetic capacity of the liver make it a source of potentially large amounts of PAI-1. Because thrombin activity increases in association with thrombotic disorders and because specific binding sites for thrombin have been identified on hepatocytes, we characterized the effect of thrombin on hepatocyte PAI- 1 production. Incubation of Hep G2 cells with human alpha-thrombin resulted in a dose- and time-dependent increase in the concentration of PAI-1 in conditioned media. This effect was inhibited completely by hirudin and by antithrombin III. Steady-state levels of both the 3.2-kb and 2.2-kb forms of PAI-1 mRNA increased after stimulation of the cells with thrombin, indicating that thrombin influences PAI-1 expression in Hep G2 cells at the pretranslational level. Incubation of Hep G2 cells with alpha-thrombin and either platelet lysates or purified transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), both previously shown to augment hepatocyte PAI-1 expression, resulted in a synergistic increase in the concentration of PAI-1 in conditioned media. PAI-1 mRNA appeared to be synergistically increased as well. Thus, thrombin increases expression of both PAI-1 protein and mRNA in Hep G2 cells and exerts synergistic effects with TGF-beta. These results underscore the potential importance of inhibition of thrombin under conditions in which thrombolysis is induced pharmacologically.