Over the last 10 years, the management of major haemorrhage in trauma patients has changed radically. This is mainly due to the recognition that many patients who are bleeding when they come in to the emergency department have an established coagulopathy before the haemodilution effects of fluid resuscitation. This has led to the use of new terminology: Acute traumatic coagulopathy, acute coagulopathy of trauma shock or trauma-induced coagulopathy. The recognition of acute traumatic coagulopathy is important, because we now understand that its presence is a prognostic indicator, as it is associated with poor clinical outcome. This has driven a change in clinical management, so that the previous approach of maintaining an adequate circulating volume and oxygen carrying capacity before, as a secondary event, dealing with coagulopathy, has changed to haemostatic resuscitation as early as possible. While there is as yet no universally accepted assay or definition, many experts use prolongation of the prothrombin time to indicate that there is, indeed, a coagulopathy. Hypoxia, acidosis and hypothermia and hormonal, immunological and cytokine production, alongside consumption and blood loss, and the dilutional effects of resuscitation may occur to varying extents depending on the type of tissue damaged, the type and extent of injury, predisposing to, or amplifying, activation of coagulation, platelets, fibrinolysis. These are discussed in detail within the article.