The possible activation of monocytes to express tissue factor procoagulant activity (TF-PCA) during CPB (cardiopulmonary bypass) was investigated. 22 patients undergoing myocardial revascularization were randomly assigned to two groups. In group C, heparin-coated circuits (Duraflo II) and reduced systemic heparinization (ACT > 250s) were used. In group NC, non-coated circuits and standard heparin administration (ACT > 480s) were used. Adherent monocytes retrieved from the oxygenators immediately after bypass arrest showed a 2-3-fold increase in TF-PCA when compared to circulating cells pre-CPB (P < 0.01). When cell PCA was expressed as percent change from pre-CPB (baseline) values, circulating monocytes in group NC at CPB-arrest showed a 2-fold increase in PCA compared to group C (P < 0.05). Moreover, the percent increase in PCA of oxygenator-retrieved monocytes was 7-fold in group NC and 2-fold in group C (P < 0.008 and P < 0.004, respectively). Thus, heparin-coating of the extracorporeal circuit reduced induction of adherent cell TF-PCA by 70% (P < 0.05). Thus, monocyte TF-PCA may cause activation of the extrinsic coagulation pathway during CPB surgery. It is apparent that heparin-coating enhanced biocompatibility of extracorporeal circuits. Reduced systemic heparinization in group C proved to be safe. However, further reduction of heparin administration may not be advisable, since monocytes were still activated in the coated oxygenator.