The coagulation factors V (FV) and VIII (FVIII) are important at sites of vascular injury for the amplification of the clotting cascade. Natural variants of these factors frequently lead to severe bleeding disorders. To understand the mechanisms of activation of FVIII by thrombin, we used a bank of mutant thrombins to define residues important for its activation. From the initial screening of 53 mutant thrombins for the activation of human recombinant FVIII, we mapped thrombin mutants with 50% or less activity to anion-binding exosite-I (Lys21Ala, His66Ala, Lys65Ala, Arg68Ala, Arg70Ala, and Tyr71Ala) and anion-binding exosite-II (Arg98Ala), the Na+-binding site (Glu229Ala, Arg233Ala, Asp234Ala, and Asp193Ala/Lys196Ala), and the 50-insertion loop (Trp50Ala), which were similar to our results for the activation of FV. The role of these residues for cleavage at Arg372 and Arg1689 was investigated using plasma FVIII. Anion-binding exosite-I appears to be important for cleavage at both sites, whereas the anion-binding exosite-II residue Arg98Ala is important for cleavage at Arg372 alone. The Glu229Ala mutant, which contributes to the Na+-binding site, and the 50-insertion loop mutant W50A have severely impaired cleavage at Arg372 and Arg1689. This suggests that the integrity of the active site and the Na+-bound form of thrombin are important for its procoagulant activity against FVIII. Detailed mutagenic analysis of thrombin can assist in understanding the pathogenesis of bleeding disorders and may lead to the rational design of selective thrombin inhibitors.