Previous studies in the guinea pig model system have established a close structural homology between human and guinea pig glycoproteins Ib (GPIb) and IIb/IIIa (GPIIb/IIIa). Moreover, the murine monoclonal antibody (MoAb) PG-1, which recognizes GPIb in guinea pig platelets and megakaryocytes, exerted full inhibition on von Willebrand factor (vWF)- dependent platelet agglutination without inhibiting aggregation induced by ADP, collagen, or thrombin. The present research extends this animal model system to study of the effects on hemostatic function following the in vivo injection of MoAb PG-1 or its F(ab')2 fragments. A hind limb template bleeding time methodology was developed for use in guinea pigs. Normal bleeding time was determined to be 2.7 +/- 0.5 minutes (mean +/- SD), with an observed range of two to four minutes. Platelet counts in these same animals were 501 +/- 82 x 10(3)/microL. After intraperitoneal (IP) injection of busulfan, guinea pigs became increasingly thrombocytopenic. As long as the platelet count remained above approximately 150 x 10(3)/microL, the bleeding time was not more than five minutes; however, further decrease in the platelet count was accompanied by more marked prolongations of the bleeding time. For 14 to 72 hours after IP injection of 1.3 mg/kg intact PG-1 MoAb, a hemorrhagic state was produced with a bleeding time greater than 20 minutes. The platelet count concurrently decreased to approximately 50% of its baseline value but could not be further decreased either by raising the initial PG-1 dosage tenfold or by administering a second, equal dose 24 hours after the initial injection. This finding may reflect a heterogeneity of circulating platelets with respect to GPIb, to Fc receptors, or to an interaction between them. After IP injection of 0.63 to 2.5 mg/kg PG-1 F(ab')2 fragment, platelet counts did not decrease more than 21% below baseline levels in a 72-hour period, and bleeding times never increased by more than one minute over baseline values. Nevertheless, platelets obtained from animals 24 hours after injection of 2.5 mg/kg PG-1 F(ab')2 showed full inhibition of agglutination induced by ristocetin. The response of these platelets to aggregation by asialo-vWF was also severely inhibited as compared with control platelets. PG-1 F(ab')2 produced no effect on aggregation induced by ADP. These studies show that virtually complete functional block of the vWF receptor by F(ab')2 fragments of the anti-GPIb MoAb PG- 1 is not sufficient to produce a hemorrhagic state in the guinea pig animal model system.