Abstract Using immunocytochemical and biochemical techniques, we have demonstrated that cultured human epidermal keratinocytes contain both urokinase and tissue type plasminogen activators. In subconfluent colonies the distribution of the two enzymes differed. Tissue type plasminogen activator (tPA) was distributed evenly throughout the colony, while, as we have demonstrated previously, urokinase type plasminogen activator (uPA) was preferentially localized at the migrating edges of the colony. Using zymographic analyses, both tPA and uPA activities were detected in cell extracts. Depending on the procedure used to prepare cell extracts, tPA was detected either as free enzyme or in complex with PA inhibitor type 1. PA inhibitor type 1 was deposited onto the extracellular matrix of the keratinocyte cultures and formed a complex with cell-associated tPA when cells and matrix were extracted together. The most differentiated keratinocytes in the culture, which were spontaneously shed from the culture surface, also contained both tPA and uPA. However, these spontaneously shed cells had a higher ratio of tPA:uPA than did the less differentiated cells from the same culture. In conjunction with our previous studies, these results demonstrate the complex nature of the plasminogen activator system, including enzymes and inhibitors, that is present in human keratinocytes. In addition, our data suggest that the relative amounts of uPA and tPA in epidermal cells vary with differentiation state.