Plasmin was recently reported to inhibit platelet aggregation. We report here on the interaction of plasmin with the adenylate cyclase system of human platelets. Human plasmin caused a dose- and time-dependent increase in adenylate cyclase activity when added to a crude platelet membrane preparation. Both basal and prostaglandin E1-stimulated adenylate cyclase activity doubled in presence of plasmin. This stimulatory activity was shared by papain and alpha-chymotrypsin, but not by thrombin which displayed a slightly inhibitory effect. Plasmin not only stimulated platelet adenylate cyclase activity, but also suppressed the GTP-dependent alpha 2-adrenergic inhibition, thereby producing a five- to six-fold increased activity measured in the presence of adrenaline and GTP. These effects of plasmin on the adenylate cyclase system were suppressed by the addition of the protease inhibitor leupeptin, and of soybean trypsin inhibitor, indicating that proteolysis mediated these effects. We also examined the adenylate cyclase activity in membranes prepared from intact platelets incubated with increasing doses of plasmin. Incubation of platelets with plasmin concentrations as low as 0.25 mg/ml resulted in an irreversible increase in membrane adenylate cyclase activity and suppression of the adrenaline-mediated inhibition of enzyme activity. These results suggest that the proteolytic stimulating effect of plasmin on the platelet adenylate cyclase system may account for the inhibition of platelet aggregation.