Background Protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR-1) potentiates diabetic nephropathy (DN) as evident from reduced kidney injury in diabetic PAR-1 deficient mice. Although thrombin is the prototypical PAR-1 agonist, anticoagulant treatment does not limit DN in experimental animal models suggesting that thrombin is not the endogenous PAR-1 agonist driving DN. Objectives To identify the endogenous PAR-1 agonist potentiating diabetes-induced nephropathy. Methods Unbiased protease expression profiling in glomeruli from human kidneys with DN was performed using publically available microarray data. The identified prime candidate PAR-1 agonist was subsequently analysed for PAR-1-dependent induction of fibrosis in vitro. Results Of the 553 proteases expressed in the human genome, 247 qualified as potential PAR-1 agonists of which 71 were significantly expressed above background in diabetic glomeruli. The recently identified PAR-1 agonist plasmin(ogen), together with its physiological activator tissue plasminogen activator, were among the highest expressed proteases. Plasmin did however not induce mesangial proliferation and/or fibronectin deposition in vitro. In a PAR-1 independent manner, plasmin even reduced fibronectin deposition. Conclusion Expression profiling identified plasmin as potential endogenous PAR-1 agonist driving DN. Instead of inducing fibronectin expression, plasmin however reduced mesangial fibronectin deposition in vitro. Therefore we conclude that plasmin may not be the endogenous PAR-1 agonist potentiating DN.