Patients with primary systemic amyloidosis (AL) often experience bleeding, and we report a newly recognized coagulation abnormality in AL. Of 103 patients with primary systemic AL studied over 2 years, 41 had prolongation of the thrombin time (range, 25 to 46 seconds; normal, less than 22 seconds) and reptilase time (range, 17 to 39 seconds; normal, 14 to 16 seconds). The fibrinogen from the plasma of 36 patients was precipitated by beta-alanine and diluted to a concentration of approximately 200 mg/dL. The thrombin times of the precipitated fibrinogens were normal in 34 patients, implying that an inhibitor was responsible for the abnormal tests. The addition of patient fibrinogen-free plasma to normal plasma prolonged the thrombin times, and this result confirmed the presence of an inhibitor. The inhibitor is more likely to be present in patients with nephrotic syndrome (20 of our patients) and congestive heart failure (six). A circulating monoclonal protein (24 patients), the presence of amyloid liver involvement (eight), and the presence of amyloid neuropathy (nine) were not predisposing factors. Only one patient had deficiency of factor X. We conclude that inhibition of fibrinogen conversion to a fibrin clot rather than dysfibrinogenemia is the cause of the prolonged thrombin time in primary systemic AL.