Hereditary protein C deficiency is a hypercoagulable state associated with an increased risk for venous thrombosis. The recommended initial test for protein C is an activity (functional) assay, which may be clotting time based or chromogenic. The advantages and disadvantages of the various testing options are presented. The causes of acquired protein C deficiency are much more common than hereditary deficiency. Therefore, this article describes the appropriate steps to take when protein C activity is low, to confirm or exclude a hereditary deficiency. The causes of falsely normal results are also described, including lupus anticoagulants and direct thrombin inhibitors. Am. J. Hematol., 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.