The anticoagulant behavior of sulfated polysaccharides from seaweeds is reviewed based on their chemical structures. Analysis of the literature suggested that the driving force for the formation of the sulfated polysaccharide/ protein complex is the non-specific polar interaction between the negatively and positively charged groups in the polysaccharide and protein, respectively and that the complex is further stabilized by short-range interactions. The polysaccharide binding site should be able to go through the following conformational steps in the formation of the complex: random coil→ordered conformation→low distortion of this conformation to form a complementary fitting structure with the protein backbone. The sulfated monosaccharide units with the highest potential for anticoagulant activity should have two sulfate groups and a glycosidic linkage on the pyranose ring with C-2, C-3 and C-4 in 2S, 3R, 4R or 2R, 3S, 4S configurations for galactose, fucose and arabinose and 2S, 3S, 4R, for rhamnose. Three distributions of these substituents appear: 3-linked 2,4-disulfated units, 4-linked 2,3-disulfated units and 2-linked 3,4-disulfated residues. These types of units have the possibility, through the equilibrium of the chair conformations, to place their sulfate groups in adequate spacial positions to interact with basic groups of the protein. The anticoagulant activity is mainly attributed to thrombin inhibition mediated by antithrombin and/or heparin cofactor II, with different effectivenesses depending of the compound. Other mechanisms are also proposed and these differences could be attributed to the diversity of structures of the polysaccharides evaluated and to the fact that one compound may have more than one target protease.