Components of the factor VIII complex increase and activation of the fibrinolytic system occur during exercise. The relation between the duration and intensity of exercise and the relative changes in the VIII complex and fibrinolytic system have not been previously examined. Five healthy male subjects were exercised with three protocols: a graded progressive exercise test to exhaustion on a cycle ergometer with 50-W increments every 4 min, steady-state exercise, 15 min at 5 and 125 W each, and an acute 30-s maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer. Venous blood samples were drawn at base line, during the last 30 s of each power output in the graded exercise, at 5-min intervals for the steady-state exercise, and for up to 1 h after completion of exercise in all three protocols. At the maximum exercise intensities, increases in plasma lactate concentration ([La]), O2 uptake, and [H+] were observed. Components of the VIII complex [VIII procoagulant, VIII procoagulant antigen, VIII-related antigen (VIIIR:Ag), VIII ristocetin cofactor activity] abruptly rose at only the highest work intensities, whereas the whole blood clot lysis time began to gradually shorten much earlier at low work intensities. There were no qualitative changes in the factor VIIIR:Ag on crossed immunoelectrophoresis nor was there evidence of thrombin generation as determined by fibrinopeptide A generation. We conclude that during exercise the changes observed in the coagulation and fibrinolytic systems are related to the intensity of the exercise, which is reflected by increases in plasma [La] and [H+], and that the fibrinolytic system is activated before the changes in the VIII complex are observed.