A new variant of von Willebrand disease (vWD) was identified by a new analytic method which characterizes the ability of plasma von Willebrand Factor (vWF) to bind to purified factor VIII (F.VIII). vWF was isolated from small amounts of plasma by immunoadsorption with a selected monoclonal antibody to vWF previously coated onto wells of microtitration plates. Plasma F.VIII was removed from immobilized vWF by washing with 0.4 mol/L CaCl2; purified F.VIII was then added to the well. The amount of bound F.VIII was estimated directly in the wells by a chromogenic assay and immobilized vWF was estimated by an immunologic a pool of normal plasma, ten control individuals, 13 with hemophilia A and five with type I vWD. In all cases, the dose-response curves were linear and the slopes of the regression lines were essentially the same. The method was then applied to investigate the binding of vWF to F.VIII in two vWD patients (sister and brother) who demonstrated significantly lower activity of F.VIII than of vWF. The first patient, with a long history of epistaxis, bruising, and hematomas, showed a slightly prolonged bleeding time (10 minutes); 15% VIII:C and 39% of vWF:Ag and vWFRCo. Her brother, who has a bleeding syndrome but no hematomas, showed similar data (bleeding time 9 minutes, 20% VIII:C, 53% vWF:Ag and vWFRCo). Similar levels of F.VIII were observed in the two propositi by four different methods (one- and two-stage clotting and chromogenic and immunologic assays). Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) 1.4% agarose gel electrophoresis showed that all multimers of vWF were present in both patients. vWF binding to F.VIII was markedly decreased in the two propositi. The abnormal binding of vWF to F.VIII was not corrected during pregnancy or after infusion of 1-deamino (8-D- arginine) vasopressin despite an increase in vWF levels. The qualitative abnormality of vWF in both patients was associated with a subtle alteration of the multimeric structure by SDS 3% agarose gel electrophoresis in which the two central subbands of the quintuplet of individual oligomers were undetectable or poorly visible. SDS- polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under reducing conditions demonstrated a single band of 275 Kd in the plasma of both patients, and there was no evidence of a second band corresponding to pro-vWF, the precursor of the mature vWF subunit, suggesting that proteolytic processing of vWF was normal.