To determine whether fibrinolytic testing predicts recurrent venous thrombosis, we have performed a prospective cohort study in which 303 patients with a first episode of venous thromboembolism underwent comprehensive fibrinolytic testing while receiving oral anticoagulants, and after anticoagulants had been discontinued. They were then followed for up to 3 years for recurrent venous thrombosis. No systematic differences in the levels or activity of type 1 plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1), tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or euglobulin clot lysis times were detected between patients who did, or did not, suffer recurrent thrombosis. There were also no differences in these variables when patients whose initial thrombosis was idiopathic were compared to patients whose thrombosis occurred in the setting of a known thrombotic risk factor. Based on these results, neither measuring fibrinolytic parameters in patients with venous thromboembolism, nor modification of treatment based on the results of such testing, are justified. Our study also confirms that patients with idiopathic venous thromboembolism have a high risk of recurrence.