Summary. Patients with von Willebrand disease (VWD), the most common inherited bleeding disorder, display large variation in bleeding tendency, which is not completely related to VWF levels. The cause of variability in clinical expression is largely unknown. The effect of plasma fibrinolytic capacity on bleeding tendency in VWD patients has not been investigated. We hypothesized that enhanced fibrinolysis may result in a more severe bleeding phenotype. Therefore, we measured the fibrinolytic potential in patients with moderate or severe VWD to investigate the contribution of fibrinolysis to the bleeding tendency. Fibrinolytic potential was measured as plasma clot lysis time (CLT) with and without addition of potato carboxypeptidase inhibitor (PCI) in 638 patients with moderate or severe VWD who participated in a nationwide multicentre cross-sectional study. Bleeding severity was measured using the Bleeding Score (BS).The CLTs were significantly longer, indicative of hypofibrinolysis, in men compared to women with VWD [106.2 (IQR 95.7–118.1) vs. 101.9 (IQR 92.8–114.0) min]. The CLTs prolonged with increasing age. No association was found between VWF or FVIII levels and CLT, or between VWF or FVIII levels and CLT+PCI. No association was observed for BS in a model with 10log-transformed CLT, adjusted for age, gender, VWF:Act and FVIII [b = 6.5 (95%CI −0.3 to 13.4)]. Our study showed that the plasma fibrinolytic potential does not influence bleeding tendency in VWD patients and therefore does not explain the variability in bleeding phenotype in VWD.