When triggered by factor (F) XII and nucleic acids, we showed that thrombosis in HRG-deficient mice is accelerated compared with that in wild-type mice. In this study, we set out to identify the mechanisms by which nucleic acids promote contact activation, and to determine whether HRG attenuates their effects. DNA or RNA addition to human plasma enhances thrombin generation via the intrinsic pathway and shortens the clotting time. Their effect on the clotting time is seven- to 14-fold greater in HRG-deficient plasma than in control plasma. Investigations into the mechanisms of activation reveal that nucleic acids a) promote FXII activation in the presence of prekallikrein- and high molecular weight kininogen (HK), and b) enhance thrombin-mediated FXI activation by 10– to 12-fold. Surface plasmon resonance studies show that DNA and RNA bind FXII, FXIIa, HK, FXI, FXIa and thrombin with high affinity. HRG attenuates DNA- and RNA-mediated FXII activation, and FXI activation by FXIIa or by thrombin, suggesting that HRG down regulates the capacity of DNA and RNA to activate the intrinsic pathway. Therefore, HRG attenuates the procoagulant activity of nucleic acids at multiple levels.