The effect of subclinical mastitis on levels of plasminogen and plasmin in milk from cows in a high-yielding herd was investigated. Comparisons were made with levels of milk Na, antitrypsin and N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidase (NAGase). In samples from mastitic quarters plasminogen activity, as measured after activation to plasmin, increased by only 21% and plasmin by 82%, while NAGase increased by 307 %. Plasminogen was the only component that was normally distributed, all other components showed more or less skewed distributions. Plasmin and plasminogen were significantly related to the other components. However, plasminogen plateaued when the other components continued to increase. There was thus no further increase in plasminogen with the severity of inflammation as with the other components. Plasmin showed a similar although less pronounced tendency. Results of treatment of mastitic whey samples with acid suggested that the non-linear increase in plasmin activity was due to interaction with acid-labile proteinase inhibitors. Mastitis led to dissociation of plasminogen and plasmin from the casein micelles. The degree of activation of plasminogen was higher with casein-associated than with soluble plasminogen in both healthy and mastitic milks. Plasmin was very closely related to milk Na, which is a sensitive indicator of epithelial integrity. It is suggested that plasmin contributes to Na leakage into milk by degrading membrane proteins of the epithelial lining. Plasminogen and antitrypsin, which are both plasma proteins, were not identically affected by stage of lactation, indicating nonidentical modes of transport from plasma to milk.