In the present study, we assessed the binding of recombinant forms of apolipoprotein(a) [r-apo(a)] to plasminogen. Apo(a)-plasminogen interactions were demonstrated to be lysine-dependent, as they were abolished by the addition of epsilon-aminocaproic acid. Binding of r-apo(a) and plasma-derived Lp(a) to Glu-plasminogen was assessed in solution using a mutant form of recombinant plasminogen [Plg(S741C)] labeled at the active site with 5'-(iodoacetamido)fluorescein. High-affinity binding of apo(a) to plasminogen was observed with the 17-kringle r-apo(a) (Kd = 20.1 +/- 3.3 nM) as well as with plasma-derived Lp(a) (Kd = 5.58 +/- 0.08 nM). Binding studies using various truncated and mutant forms of r-apo(a) demonstrated that sequences within apo(a) kringle IV types 2-9 and the strong lysine binding site (LBS) in apo(a) kringle IV type 10 are not required for high-affinity binding to plasminogen. In all cases, the binding stoichiometry for the apo(a)-plasminogen interaction was determined to be 11. Binding data obtained using a 17-kringle r-apo(a) derivative lacking the protease-like domain (17KDeltaP; Kd = 3158 +/- 138 nM) indicate that sequences within the protease-like domain of apo(a) mediate its interaction with LBS in plasminogen. We determined that r-apo(a) and plasminogen bind to distinct sites on plasmin-modified fibrinogen with the concentration of plasminogen binding sites exceeding the concentration of r-apo(a) sites by a factor of 10. Furthermore, r-apo(a) is capable of inhibiting the binding of plasminogen to plasmin-modified fibrinogen surfaces, an effect which we show is attributable to the formation of a solution phase apo(a)/plasminogen complex which exhibits a greatly reduced affinity for plasminogen binding sites on plasmin-modified fibrinogen. The results of this study provide new insights into the mechanism by which apo(a) and Lp(a) may inhibit fibrinolysis, thus contributing to the atherothrombotic risk associated with this lipoprotein.