Southern blotting was performed with cDNA probes for the human von Willebrand factor (vWF) gene on six patients with severe type III von Willebrand's disease (vWD). A partial deletion in the 3′ end of the vWF gene was demonstrated in one individual whose parents were related and who had an alloantibody inhibitor to vWF. A resulting novel 2.0- kilobase (kb) EcoRI fragment was used for carrier detection within the patient's family, and seven carriers of this recessive trait were identified. Of the six tested, five had normal or only slightly reduced levels of vWF antigen, but with generally higher levels of factor VIII. The sixth carrier had moderately severe vWD and it is proposed that this patient is heterozygous for the defective vWF gene and a second recessive vWF defect. The novel 2.0-kb EcoRI restriction fragment was cloned and sequenced, and compared with that of the corresponding normal 4.2-kb EcoRI fragment that includes exons 41 and 42 of the vWF gene. A deletion of 2,320 base pairs (bp) which included exon 42, was identified and a novel 182-bp insert was found between the breakpoints. This insert was detected by polymerase chain reaction amplification both in the patient's DNA and in his carrier relatives.