Hirudin, a potent and specific thrombin inhibitor, is a protein of nonhuman origin and therefore potentially immunogenic. The primary objectives of this investigation were to determine the incidence of antihirudin antibodies (ahir-ab) in patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) who received lepirudin as parenteral anticoagulation and to determine the incidence of death, limb amputation, new thromboembolic complications (TECs), and major hemorrhage in patients who had ahir-ab, compared with patients who were ahir-ab negative. The investigation used data from 2 prospective multicenter studies with the same study protocol, in which HIT patients received 1 of 4 intravenous lepirudin dosage regimens. The treatment duration was 2 to 10 days. Ahir-ab were determined by a newly developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Eighty-seven of 196 evaluable patients (44.4%) had ahir-ab of the IgG class. Development of ahir-ab was dependent on the duration of treatment (ahir-ab-positive patients 18.6 days vs ahir-ab-negative patients 11.8 days; P =.0001). Fewer ahir-ab-positive than ahir-ab-negative patients died (P =.001). Ahir-ab did not cause an increase in limb amputation (P =.765), new TECs (P >.99), or major bleedings (P =.549). In 23 of 51 (45.1%) evaluable patients in whom ahir-ab developed during treatment with lepirudin ( = 12% of all lepirudin treated patients), the ahir-ab enhanced the anticoagulatory effect of lepirudin. Ahir-ab are frequent in patients treated with lepirudin for more than 5 days. Ahir-ab are the first example for a drug-induced immune response causing enhanced activity of a drug. Therefore, during prolonged treatment with lepirudin, anticoagulatory activity should be monitored daily to avoid bleeding complications.