Platelet aggregation requires the binding of adhesive proteins such as fibrinogen to the heterodimer of membrane glycoproteins IIb (GPIIb) and IIIa (GPIIIa). Human erythroleukemia (HEL) cells synthesize both GPIIb and GPIIIa. Using poly(A+) RNA purified from HEL cells, we constructed a cDNA library in the lambda gt10 phage vector. This library was screened with a 38mer oligonucleotide derived from a platelet GPIIIa peptide, and three overlapping cDNAs were isolated. The three inserts encompassed 3.5 kilobases (kb), including the entire coding region of mature GPIIIa (2,286 basepairs, bp) and 1.3 kb of 3′ untranslated sequence. All 222 residues determined directly from platelet GPIIIa tryptic peptides exactly matched the HEL cell-deduced amino acid sequence. The HEL cell sequence matched a previously reported endothelial cell cDNA sequence except for eight nucleotides. Five of these nucleotide differences were silent changes consistent with genetic polymorphisms. The other three differences resulted in changes in the deduced amino acid sequence of GPIIIa; reexamination of the endothelial cell cDNA sequence in these three areas revealed that it is actually identical to the HEL cell sequence. The virtual identity of the endothelial and HEL cell cDNA sequences provides direct evidence that GPIIIa is a subunit common to cell-adhesion receptors present in more than one cell type. We localized the gene for GPIIIa to chromosome 17, the same chromosome to which we had previously mapped the gene for GPIIb.