Factor V and factor VIII are homologous cofactors in the blood coagulation cascade that have the domain structure A1-A2-B-A3-C1-C2, of which the B domain has extensively diverged. In transfected COS-1 monkey cells, expression of factor VIII is approximately 10-fold less efficient than that of factor V, primarily because of inefficient protein secretion and, to a lesser extent, reduced mRNA expression. To study the functional significance and effect of the B domain on expression and activity, chimeric cDNAs were constructed in which the B domains of factor V and factor VIII were exchanged. Expression of a factor VIII chimera harboring the B-domain of factor V yielded a fully functional factor VIII molecule that was expressed twofold more efficiently than wild-type factor VIII because of increased mRNA expression. Thus, sequences within the factor VIII B domain were not responsible for the inefficient secretion of factor VIII compared with factor V. Expression of a factor V chimera harboring the B domain of factor VIII was slightly reduced compared with wild-type factor V, although the secreted molecule had significantly reduced procoagulant activity correlating with dissociated heavy and light chains and resistance to thrombin activation. Interestingly, the factor V chimera containing the factor VIII B domain was efficiently activated by Russell's viper venum (RVV). A factor V B domain deletion (residues 710- 1545) molecule also exhibited significantly reduced procoagulant activity caused by resistance to thrombin cleavage and activation, although this molecule was activatable by RVV. These results show that, in contrast to factor VIII, thrombin activation of factor V requires sequences within the B domain. In addition, thrombin activation of factor V occurs through a different mechanism than activation by RVV.