Background: Thrombin may play an important role in restenosis after balloon angioplasty (BA). Angiographic and pathologic restenosis have been shown to be reduced after BA in an atherosclerotic rabbit model using recombinant desulfatohirudin, a selective and direct thrombin inhibitor. We hypothesized that potent and specific thrombin inhibition with the synthetic peptide hirulog given intravenously at the time of angioplasty would reduce restenosis in rabbits, confirming a specific role of thrombin in restenosis. Methods and Results: Focal femoral atherosclerosis was induced in 27 rabbits by air desiccation endothelial injury followed by a 2% cholesterol diet for 1 month. Rabbits received either heparin (150 units/kg bolus, n = 14) or hirulog (5 mg/kg bolus followed by 5 mg/kg/h for 2 h, n = 13) at the time of BA (2.5-mm balloon with three 60-second, 10-atm inflations 60s apart). Angiograms performed before and after BA and before sacrifice were analyzed quantitatively. Rabbits were sacrificed 28 days after BA for quantitative histopathologic analysis. Minimum luminal diameter (mm) did not differ between treatment groups before (1.1 ± 0.2 vs. 1.2 ± 0.1 mm) or after (1.5 ± 0.2 vs. 1.6 ± 0.1)BAin arteries from heparin-versus hirulog-treated rabbits, respectively. At 28 days, however, minimum luminal diameter was significantly less (1.0 ± 0.4 vs. 1.5 ± 0.2, p = 0.0001) and percent stenosis was greater (0.46 ± 0.25 vs. 0.22 ± 0.08, p = 0.0002) in arteries from heparin- versus hirulog-treated rabbits, respectively. Similarly, quantitative histopathology showed less cross-sectional area narrowing by plaque in the hirulog group (56 ± 24 vs. 42 ± 21%, p = 0.04). Conclusion: A 2-hour infusion of hirulog at the time of angioplasty improved late angiographic luminal dimensions and reduced cross-sectional area narrowing by plaque in rabbits compared with heparin controls. Together with previous studies, this confirms a specific role for thrombin in restenosis after angioplasty.