Standard heparin and a LMWH, CY222 do not cross the placenta nor alter fetal coagulation when injected into the pregnant ewe. We found that another LMWH, Pharmuka-10169 (PK-10169) alters fetal coagulation without crossing the placenta in the pregnant sheep. To characterize this anticoagulant we measured the in vitro and in vivo effects of 125I-PK-10169 in maternal and fetal plasmas following administration of PK-10169 to the mother or fetus. The fetal anticoagulant activity was not neutralizable by protamine sulphate and was attributable to the inhibition of thrombin but not factor Xa. In vitro, the fetal anticoagulant activity had properties similar to dermatan sulphate : both catalyzed the inhibition of thrombin but not factor Xa by sheep plasma; and neither was neutralizable by protamine sulphate. These effects were due to the enhanced neutralization of thrombin by heparin cofactor II. We conclude that PK-10169 does not cross the placenta, but does induce the release of an endogenous dermatan sulphate-like substance which alters fetal coagulation.