We have compared the hemorrhagic and antithrombotic effects of a low molecular weight (LMW) heparin fraction and standard heparin in rabbits. Similar LMW heparin fractions have antithrombotic effects when tested in animals, but their hemorrhagic effects relative to standard heparin have not been established. Standard porcine mucosal heparin (mol wt 15,000 daltons) was depolymerized by nitrous acid to a low molecular weight fraction (mol wt 4600 daltons). Using equal USP units, the standard and Dep LMW heparin were compared in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo. In vitro, when diluted in rabbit plasma, the Dep LMW heparin at equivalent anti-Xa activity showed less prolongation of thrombin clotting times or activated partial thromboplastin times. Ex vivo, platelets from rabbits treated with the Dep LMW heparin showed less inhibition of collagen-induced aggregation. The relative hemorrhagic properties of the two heparins were compared in vivo in rabbits using a sensitive blood loss assay, and the antithrombotic properties were compared in a thrombin-induced venous stasis model. By using an optimal threshold heparin dose in each test system, it was possible to demonstrate that equal USP units of Dep LMW heparin caused less blood loss but showed greater antithrombotic activity than standard heparin.