A young Italian man (A.P.) has a lifelong history of bleeding from gums and mucocutaneous tissue. Electron microscopy showed a wide diversity of platelet size including giant forms. In citrated platelet-rich plasma (PRP), platelet aggregation induced by adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and other agonists was much reduced. Both secretion and clot retraction were normal. The aggregation of washed platelets with ADP was improved but remained subnormal, as was aggregation with collagen and thrombin. Fibrinogen-binding was analyzed by flow cytometry using platelets in whole blood or PRP and was markedly decreased. Crossed immunoelectrophoresis of Triton X-100 extracts of (A.P.) platelets showed that GP IIb-IIIa levels were 40% to 50% of normal. Glycoprotein (GP) IIb and GP IIIa were of usual migration in sodium dodecyl sulfate- polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, but their labeling was much reduced during lactoperoxidase-catalyzed iodination. Binding to (A.P.) platelets of four different 125I-labeled monoclonal antibodies to GP IIb-IIIa complexes was reduced to 12% to 20% of normal levels. However, when the patient's platelets were stimulated with alpha-thrombin, monoclonal antibody binding showed the same increase (approximately 20,000 sites) as normal platelets. Both flow cytometry and immunocytochemical studies showed that the distribution of residual surface GP IIb-IIIa within the total (A.P.) platelet population was heterogeneous and not related to platelet size. Staining of ultrathin sections confirmed the presence of an internal pool of GP IIb-IIIa. Monoclonal antibodies to other membrane glycoproteins bound normally to (A.P.) platelets. The patient has a selective deficiency of the surface pool of GP IIb-IIIa complexes that is manifested clinically by a mild Glanzmann's thrombasthenia-like syndrome.