To determine the relationship between equilibrium binding of thrombin to sites on the platelet surface and the cleavage of membrane glycoprotein V (GPV) by thrombin, we examined the effect of active site- modified thrombin (1-chloro-3-tosylamido-7-amino-L-2-heptanone thrombin toslysCH2-thrombin) on the binding of native thrombin to platelets and on the hydrolysis of GPV by native thrombin. ToslysCH2-thrombin inhibited binding of native thrombin to high affinity sites on the platelet surface. In contrast, hydrolysis of GPV by native thrombin, even at threshold thrombin concentrations, was not inhibited by pretreatment with toslysCH2-thrombin at concentrations up to 210 nmol/L. ToslysCH2-thrombin also had no appreciable effect on platelet aggregation or release of 14C-serotonin induced by native thrombin. Because toslysCH2-thrombin does not inhibit platelet release, aggregation, or GPV hydrolysis by native thrombin but does inhibit high affinity surface binding by native thrombin, these results indicate that thrombin binding and hydrolysis of GPV are separate and unrelated events.