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SUMMARY The kaolin clotting time of platelet poor plasma was used as a sensitive test for detecting the lupus anticoagulant in mixtures of normal and patients' plasmas. Platelets were found to decrease the anticoagulant effect of a typical lupus inhibitor. Thus, high sensitivity in this test system was achieved by ensuring low platelet coilcentrations and omitting platelet lipid substitute. In 17 patients with disseminated lupus erythematosus (DLE), 12 had detectable inhibitor by this method, more than would be detected with routine coagulation tests. Mixing patterns were of four distinct types, representing three different modes of anticoagulant behaviour. The pattern (type 3) of plasma mixtures giving longer kaolin clotting times than the individual components could be reproduced in vitro by adding trace amounts of crude thrombin or platelet fragments to a more typical lupus anticoagulant-containing plasma: formation of such a mixing pattern by the plasma of a patient with DLE may therefore indicate activation of the coagulation pathway. Six patients with idopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) had no detectable inhibitor indicating that anti-platelet antibodies behave differently from the lupus anticoagulant.