Pseudo (platelet-type)-von Willebrand disease is an autosomal dominant bleeding disorder caused by the hyperfunction of a receptor on the platelet surface. The abnormal receptor, glycoprotein Ib, displays increased affinity for its ligand, von Willebrand factor. Four members (normal mother/affected father/two affected daughters) of a family with pseudo-von Willebrand disease were studied to determine the molecular genetic basis for their congenital platelet defect. Segments of the platelet glycoprotein Ib alpha gene were amplified by means of the polymerase chain reaction, cloned, and sequenced. A point mutation (A to G, codon 239) was found in segments from the affected individuals but not from the normal. The mutation results in a single amino acid substitution (valine-mutant for methionine-normal) at residue 239 within the Ib alpha binding site for von Willebrand factor. Both the mutant and the normal sequence were found in affected individuals, suggesting a heterozygous state. Amplified DNA from family members and from 58 normal individuals was analyzed by allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization. Only the normal sequence was found in the mother and the normal individuals, whereas both the normal and the mutant alleles were found in the affected family members. The described mutation is associated with the pseudo-von Willebrand disease phenotype seen in this kindred. The resultant single amino acid substitution in glycoprotein Ib alpha relates to increased receptor function and to excessive binding of von Willebrand factor to the platelet surface.