Histidine-proline-rich glycoprotein (HPRG), also known as histidine-rich glycoprotein, is a major plasminogen-binding protein. In this work we characterized extensively the circumstances under which HPRG accelerates plasminogen activation and the specificity of this effect. Soluble HPRG did not significantly influence plasminogen activation. In contrast, native HPRG bound to hydrazide or nickel chelate surfaces strongly stimulated the activation of plasminogen by tissue plasminogen activator, but not by urokinase or streptokinase. The efficiency of activation on surface-bound HPRG was increased for Glu-plasminogen (41-fold), Lys-plasminogen (17-fold), and cross-linked Glu-plasminogen (11-fold) but not for mini-plasminogen, and was mainly due to a decrease in the apparent Km. A reduced susceptibility to inhibition by chloride ions contributed to the higher activation rate of Glu-plasminogen on an HPRG surface. The immobilized N- and C-terminal domains, but not the histidine-proline-rich domain of HPRG, also bound plasminogen and stimulated its activation. HPRG-enhanced plasminogen activation was proportional to the quantity of HPRG immobilized and was abolished by anti-HPRG antiserum, by low concentrations of epsilon-aminocaproic acid, by methylation of lysine residues in HPRG, and by treatment of HPRG with carboxypeptidase B. Soluble HPRG and a plasminogen fragment, kringle 1-2-3, acted as competitive inhibitors by binding to plasminogen and immobilized HPRG, respectively. The interaction of the conserved C-terminal lysine of HPRG with the high affinity lysine binding site of plasminogen is necessary and sufficient to accelerate plasminogen activation. Unlike other stimulators of plasminogen activation, the effect of HPRG on fibrinolysis is modulated by factors that influence the equilibrium between solution and surface-bound HPRG.