Previous studies have indicated that activated blood platelets interact with fibronectin through binding of fibronectin to the glycoprotein IIb- IIIa complex (GPIIb-IIIa). The cell attachment site of fibronectin with its crucial arg-gly-asp(-ser) [RGD(S)]sequence is involved in these bindings. We studied the importance of these interactions for the fibronectin dependence of platelet adhesion under flow conditions. An RGDS-containing hexapeptide (GRGDSP) was compared with a nonreactive control peptide (GRGESP). The GRGDSP-peptide inhibited thrombin-induced aggregation and adhesion under static conditions at 0.1 mmol/L. This concentration had no effect on platelet adhesion to nonfibrillar collagen type I in flow. GRGDSP at 1 mmol/L had a significant inhibitory effect at 1,500 s-1, but not at the lower shear rates of 800 and 300 s-1 where platelet adhesion is also fibronectin dependent. On the matrix of cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells, 1 mmol/L GRGDSP had no effect on platelet adhesion. The relation between GPIIb- IIIa and fibronectin dependence was investigated with platelets of a patient with Glanzmann's thrombasthenia and monoclonal antibodies to GPIIb-IIIa using endothelial cell matrix (ECM) as a surface. Platelets of normal controls or a patient with Glanzmann's thrombasthenia showed a similar inhibition of adhesion in the presence of fibronectin-free plasma after the ECMs had been preincubated with antifibronectin F(ab')2 fragments. Incubation of platelets with anti-GPIIb-IIIa showed inhibition of platelet adhesion at high shear rates. Dependence on fibronectin for platelet adhesion was still observed even though separate experiments had shown that these anti-GPIIb-IIIa antibodies could block binding of radiolabeled fibronectin to thrombin-activated platelets. These data suggest the existence of another binding system for the interaction of platelets with fibronectin that may only appear when fibronectin is present on a surface.