To gain greater insight into the nature of the bleeding tendency in hemophilia, we compared the spatial dynamics of clotting in platelet-free plasma from healthy donors and from patients with severe hemophilia A or B (factor VIII:C or IX:C<1%). Clotting was initiated via the intrinsic or extrinsic pathway in a thin layer of nonstirred plasma by bringing it in contact with the glass or fibroblast monolayer surface. The results suggest that clot growth is a process consisting of two distinct phases, initiation and elongation. The clotting events on the activator surface and the preceding period free of visible signs of clotting are the initiation phase. In experiments with and without stirring alike, this phase is prolonged in hemophilic plasma activated by the intrinsic, but not the extrinsic pathway. Strikingly, both hemophilia A and B are associated with a significant deterioration in the elongation phase (clot thickening), irrespective of the activation pathway. The rate of clot growth in hemophilic plasma is significantly lower than normal and declines quickly. The resulting clots are thin, which may account for the bleeding disorder.