Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States. Currently, there are approximately 12 million Americans with CHD, which is most frequently caused by atherosclerosis. The thrombotic complications of atherosclerosis, such as acute coronary syndrome and ischemic stroke, can be fatal and those who survive such events have a far greater risk of future cardiovascular events. This huge medical need cries out for improved novel anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents, and profibrinolytic agents. These agents will successfully respond to the medical need by providing safe, effective, and easily administered treatments that have little, if any, drug and food interactions and that require minimal monitoring. The currently approved antiplatelet agent, clopidogrel, has satisfied some of these requirements and has played a large role in expanding the antithrombotic market over the past few years. New antithrombotics approaching the marketplace, such as the prodrug thrombin inhibitor ximelagatran, have promise in expanding the antithrombotic market further. Over the past two decades, the pharmaceutical industry has mounted a huge effort to develop antithrombotics that function by inhibiting key enzymes positioned at “higher” levels of the coagulation system. Direct inhibitors of factor Xa, which may provide a better safety and efficacy profile than currently available agents, appear to be the next major class of antithrombotic agents poised to take the pharmaceutical industry one step closer to delivering the ideal antithrombotic agent. This review focuses on recent innovations in the discovery and development of potent parenteral and oral direct factor Xa inhibitors.